Originally published February 28, 2014
United works hard to be one of the most reliable airlines in the world. When complications such as weather, air traffic control problems and mechanical issues arise, however, our concern for your safety will always outweigh the desire to remain on schedule. While most delays don’t involve the need for rebooking, some do. During these challenging situations, simply knowing more about what can be done is an important step toward getting your travel plans back on track.
Keeping customers safe is key
Canceling or delaying a flight is something no one here at United wants to have happen as it’s not only an inconvenience to our customers but causes chain reactions all across the network. Our primary goal, however, is to keep everyone safe on the ground and in the air.
Keeping safety our primary focus, our team of flight dispatchers work with our meteorologists, network directors, routers, and operations managers who all coordinate with other key stakeholders including flight crew scheduling, inflight crew scheduling, technical operations and maintenance. Each of these teams work together every day to make sure all of our flights can get all of our customers safely to their destinations with the minimum amount of disruption.
The challenge of different weather patterns
A common question customers ask is why their flight from point A to point B has been delayed or canceled when there is no problem on either end. Of course, there are lots of reasons irregularities occur but a big one is weather, which we try to address proactively as far in advance as we possibly can. And with today’s advanced technology, we cancel fewer flights because we’re working with far more information than we did just a few years ago.
While all weather is essentially unpredictable, snow patterns, hurricanes and extreme heat can usually be tracked about three days ahead, so we try to rebook passengers preemptively whenever possible. Weather issues such as thunderstorms and tornadoes are extremely difficult to track because they can move quickly and erratically and can occur while a plane is in mid-flight.
We know it can be frustrating but keep in mind that our teams are experts in their fields and can see where all the planes in the air are at any given time and how weather at some point between your point A and point B can affect patterns for both your particular flight and any other aircraft in the air at that same time.
For example: you may be planning to fly from clear skies in Chicago to sunny Los Angeles, but there is inclement weather in Denver (which could be snow, thunderstorms, extreme heat or cold, anything that could affect flight patterns or the safety of the aircraft). Your aircraft or crew could be originating from Denver, or your flight may even need to be rerouted in the air on the way to LA. Either of these scenarios can create delays. Our teams work aggressively to minimize disruptions such as these (swapping crews or aircraft for example) but it’s likely that many other flights are also being affected creating a ripple across the country. So instead of keeping you on the ground for an unpredictable length of time, your flight may be delayed or canceled to accommodate all the traffic being rerouted.
Plan ahead for weather possibilities
The best thing you can do, even before weather affects your travel plans is be prepared ahead of time. Some proactive tips you may want to keep in mind before your flight:
• Download the United app
, subscribe to notifications and enable “push notifications” so we can send you alerts.
• Keep your contact information current so we know how and where to reach you.
• Allow yourself extra time at the airport whenever possible. Sometimes, if our team on the ground can see a weather issue evolving, they can try to re-book and get you on a flight ahead of it instead of adding you to the list of customers that need to be re-booked after it happens.
• Check this page
on united.com for more information and keep in mind that our social operations team is available on Facebook
24 hours a day. They can answer questions and point you toward solutions on the spot.
So if you find yourself in a weather-related delay, keep in mind that hundreds of people behind the scenes and on the front lines are doing everything possible to keep you on schedule with as little disruption as possible to your original travel plans.