Eurowings Discover’s Salt Lake City Flight Keeps Stopping In Canada

Eurowings Discover’s Salt Lake City Flight Keeps Stopping In Canada

26

Eurowings Discover seems to be having some issues operating its new flight between Salt Lake City (SLC) and Frankfurt (FRA) reliably, as it has now repeatedly stopped in Canada. I thought this would be an interesting topic to discuss on a couple of levels.

Eurowings Discover having issues in Salt Lake City

Eurowings Discover is Lufthansa’s long haul low cost carrier. The airline flies to several destinations in the United States, and I reviewed the carrier’s Tampa to Frankfurt business class service a few months ago.

The airline also flies between Salt Lake City and Frankfurt, but the route has been having some issues in recent weeks. Four of the last five frequencies on the route have required a refueling stop on the eastbound sector:

  • The flight stopped in Halifax (YHZ) three times
  • The flight stopped in Toronto (YYZ) one time

Why would a refueling stop be needed, as this 9hr30min flight is typically well within range for an Airbus A330-300? For that matter, the westbound flight takes longer, so why is there an issue on the eastbound flight?

This comes down to Salt Lake City having a heat wave at the moment, and high heat and winds can impact aircraft performance. That’s especially true for an airport at a high altitude. So while an A330-300 could ordinarily operate this route without issue, the current conditions mean that the plane would need to take off from Salt Lake City heavily weight restricted.

This could be accomplished in a few different ways — the airline could leave passengers behind, leave bags behind, or instead fly to an intermediate point to refuel. For that matter, the airline could reschedule the flight so that it departs later in the evening, when temperatures are less of an issue.

Eurowings Discover has been choosing to just add a refueling stop, and that has caused a two to three hour delay to the arrival time in Frankfurt.

Eurowings Discover A330 business class

Is Eurowings Discover to blame?

Fox 13 Salt Lake City turned these refueling stops into an “investigative” story of sorts, as is common on local news stations. You can watch that here. A passenger was interviewed, who was flying from Salt Lake City to Frankfurt to Copenhagen to Bergen, in order to take a cruise.

Due to the delayed arrival in Frankfurt, he ended up missing his connection, and then his bags only ended up arriving on the cruise 3.5 days later.

The news station interviewed a licensed air dispatcher, who said that the airline shouldn’t be surprised that it gets hot in Salt Lake City in July, and that the airline should factor that into its weight and fuel equations.

He said that passengers should file complaints with the United States Department of Transportation, as the airline is marketing a flight as nonstop when it’s not actually nonstop many days. He claims that the DOT has the power to do something about this.

Personally I’m a bit more sympathetic to Eurowings Discover in this case:

  • Yes, it can get hot in Salt Lake City in summer, but it seems that it’s especially hot right now; if this becomes an issue for a month or more then I think some serious schedule adjustments need to be made
  • Yes, the airline could further restrict seats or luggage so that the flight could operate nonstop, but I imagine passengers wouldn’t be happy either if they were bumped due to this, or if their bags were left behind
  • Travel to & from Europe is chaotic right now, and I think people have to prepare for things to not go as planned, especially if they’re boarding a cruise; in fairness, many passengers likely booked long before the summer travel rush

Maybe I’m being too lenient toward Eurowings Discover, though. Delta operates flights from Salt Lake City to London with A330-200s, and those haven’t had any refueling stops. In fairness, the London route is a bit shorter, and both Amsterdam and Paris routes are operated by the A330-900neo, which has better performance.

The A330-200 has better performance than the A330-300 for these kinds of situations, so maybe it’s time Eurowings Discover instead fly the A330-200 to Salt Lake City (the airline also has a few of those planes)?

I think the best piece of advice for passengers (which isn’t mentioned) is that if they arrive at their final destination four or more hours late, they’d be entitled to 600 Euro each in compensation as part of the EU261 policy. That’s in addition to any compensation for delayed bags.

I’m not sure Eurowings Discover is all that much at fault here

Bottom line

Eurowings Discover is struggling with its Salt Lake City to Frankfurt flight. Due to hot temperatures and the high altitude in Salt Lake City, the plane isn’t able to take off with a full load and sufficient fuel. Rather than leaving passengers, bags, or cargo behind, the airline is instead making fuel stops in Canada.

Is this inconvenient? Of course. But in the scheme of things airlines are doing nowadays, I personally don’t think it ranks that high up there.

What do you make of Eurowings Discover’s SLC issues? Is this the airline to blame, or is this just a cost everyone has to pay when temperatures get this high?

(Tip of the hat to Scott)

Conversations (26)
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  1. SLCA Guest

    I don't show that yesterdays flight operated at all. I'll be at SLC tomorrow and see if I can spot the plane.

    FYI 100 degrees is not unusual for the summer in SLC

  2. Gray Guest

    I mean, at this point they should just add a fifth freedom route SLC-YYZ...

  3. Joe Guest

    There is an inaccurate part of this story. I've had 3 flights Salt Lake to Amstetdam on Delta this summer. Two of the 3 had to stop for fuel for the same reason.

  4. Richard Guest

    Soooo...I definitely read the headline as:

    Eurowings Discovers Salt Lake City Flight Keeps Stopping in Canada.

    Sometimes the world is just more interesting when you have dyslexia!

    Because, that didn't seem like something an airline should "discover", right? Certainly not after the first occurrence! A five dollar bill in your winter coat is a discovery. A plane landing multiple times in the wrong country is not something that should be learned
    serendipitously!

  5. Robert Guest

    It gets hot here in Utah but the past several weeks have been out of the ordinary hot. Northern Utah consistently hotter than 100° is not normal. Southern Utah (St George) just tied an all time hot day at 117°. Vegas isn't much hotter so that tells you that this heat dome is sitting further north than normal

  6. Srini Guest

    This happens with the Southwest flight from LAS to KOA. They stopped in SJC to fuel and its supposed to be a nonstop. No compensation by SW.

  7. smallmj Guest

    The funny thing is that Eurowings Discover recently started a YHZ-FRA direct service.

  8. XPL Diamond

    Yawn, this is just part of the package when I choose to fly a low cost carrier. Which I do sometimes, but with full knowledge that this sort of thing becomes more likely. If I had a cruise that I and my bags absolutely must connect with, relying on a LCC in the middle of The Summer of Operations Hell is gratuitous risk. That's not to badmouth LCCs or the people who chose to fly...

    Yawn, this is just part of the package when I choose to fly a low cost carrier. Which I do sometimes, but with full knowledge that this sort of thing becomes more likely. If I had a cruise that I and my bags absolutely must connect with, relying on a LCC in the middle of The Summer of Operations Hell is gratuitous risk. That's not to badmouth LCCs or the people who chose to fly them, but it's just common sense to choose the airline (like any other product or service) with an eye to what you need from them this time.

  9. Terence Guest

    Actually, I've seen DL's A330 frequently stopping by MSP (later learnt it's due to refuelling) before crossing the pond to AMS/CDG. I wonder if that has anything to do with the elevation at SLC.

    1. tresa Guest

      I was on this flight that was scheduled to leave on June 17 and they delayed the flight for 3 hours before extending an additional delay to depart the next morning. That flight was also delayed 3 hours before departing for Halifax. No explanation for that delay but it seems to me that if the heat was a concern, they should have left on that day in the morning. What isn’t mentioned is the non...

      I was on this flight that was scheduled to leave on June 17 and they delayed the flight for 3 hours before extending an additional delay to depart the next morning. That flight was also delayed 3 hours before departing for Halifax. No explanation for that delay but it seems to me that if the heat was a concern, they should have left on that day in the morning. What isn’t mentioned is the non existent customer service for this airline. Due to thr 3 hour delay and the stop in Halifax, we almost missed our connection to Amsterdam. We barely made it but one of our bags did not. It was found in Amsterdam 2 days later, but we had already departed on our river cruise. The cruise guest services was diligent in her efforts to get it delivered and even has it went back to Frankfurt which made it closer to our daily destinations. They refused to deliver it and then closed my claim so I can’t even search for information. I have called numbers that lead to voice mails that direct customers to file an online claim. So that is done, but then they don’t respond to any of the claims. I have also submitted the EU reimbursement form to the airline but it has also fallen on deaf ears. Anyone who has a choice on how to get to Europe should look at other options because this airline is the worst. There is also no representation in the salt lake airport so good luck in getting any assistance there.

  10. PIP Hastings Guest

    Air Dispatcher? Anyone here dispatch Air and control it's movement? SMH. They would be called Flight Dispatchers Fox 13. Which, quite frankly are some of the most important people to the safety, efficiency and well-being of a flight along with the Pilot-in Command and Flight Attendants.
    Also, I am grateful to you Ben that you called attention to the fact that FOX 13 was being overdramatic and highlighting righteous indignation to snag ratings...after all,...

    Air Dispatcher? Anyone here dispatch Air and control it's movement? SMH. They would be called Flight Dispatchers Fox 13. Which, quite frankly are some of the most important people to the safety, efficiency and well-being of a flight along with the Pilot-in Command and Flight Attendants.
    Also, I am grateful to you Ben that you called attention to the fact that FOX 13 was being overdramatic and highlighting righteous indignation to snag ratings...after all, it is July and it's sweeps month.
    As an airline employee, I have sympathy for both the airline and the passengers. First the passengers. Yes they paid for a non-stop flight and should be compensated for the alteration. BUT, at the same time do you think the airline could have predicted record highs?? No. Or I should say you think the short sighted planning department could care?? NO. the Flight Ops and Dispatchers bare the weight of the responsibility of this and the planning department leaves Flight Ops out to dry. Soo, yes it is 1000 percent true that the extreme heat in SLC is presenting problems for performance issues and limits the weight that can be taken.

    To people who say this is typical SLC weather??? They are wrong. No way in spirit prison that it's been this hot for this long. Yes 90's but we have been consistently around 100. Each degree increase can have 1,000 to 2,000 lbs restriction and make a big difference. In my opinion, the moral of the story is this:
    1. News stations scare people to make money. That's a fact.
    2. Passengers need to have a back up plan in all cases.
    3. An Airline's planning department gets paid way too much. Dispatchers should be paid more.
    4. We can't predict the weather.
    5. Air travel theoretically shouldn't be possible, but it is. So we should be grateful that God gave us the intelligence to make it happen. Let's have a little patience with everyone.

  11. Sean M. Diamond

    The A330-300 in high density config can be a bit of a dog for performance. Not the first and not the last airline to have issues with this.

  12. TM Gold

    You're being too lenient. This is a summer seasonal route and they scheduled it as a mid afternoon departure during the hottest part of the day from an airport at 4200'. This was entirely predictable. Already today by 11am the density altitude was approaching 7200'

  13. 02nz Guest

    This flight is scheduled to depart 3.40 pm, when the temperature will be at or near its daytime high. Perhaps instead of taking a fuel stop that delays things 3 hours anyway, just depart closer to 7 pm? Or maybe they should just get Finnair to operate this route as well with their A350.

    1. Robert Guest

      I'd love a Finnair flight from SLC

  14. Mark Guest

    US Airways flew A320 and A321 from PHX to the east coast for many years and had to take large weight restrictions or add fuel stops during hot summer days. You can’t deoptimize the route for 3 months because of a few edge cases (5-10 flights) that you can’t predict, especially when a fuel stop fulfills the obligation of getting everybody from point A to B.

    I’m guessing the weight restriction would be 50+ pax...

    US Airways flew A320 and A321 from PHX to the east coast for many years and had to take large weight restrictions or add fuel stops during hot summer days. You can’t deoptimize the route for 3 months because of a few edge cases (5-10 flights) that you can’t predict, especially when a fuel stop fulfills the obligation of getting everybody from point A to B.

    I’m guessing the weight restriction would be 50+ pax in this case which would also cause people to miss their planned vacations. It’s not just about getting off the runway before the end but also about how fast the aircraft can travel while on the ground without blowing tires.

  15. TN Guest

    You are being too lenient. Euro wings did not do their research. SLC altitude doesn’t change and the July temperatures this year are typical. We always have at least 3-6 100+ degree days in July and early august. Now June had some record high temps, so if that all happened last month during that heat wave, well then maybe. But then again, after it happened the first or second time, eurowings should have adjusted IMHO.

  16. stogieguy7 Diamond

    I lived in SLC for 12 years; the current conditions are NOT "uncharacteristically hot". It's very typical to have upper 90's and low 100's for high temperatures in July. One year that I was there (back in the 90s) it got up to 107 F. So, no, it's not global warming and it's not so unusual. Next, you'll be telling us how Chicago is uncharacteristically cold in January when it's in the teens. (eye roll)

  17. polarbear Member

    > they’d be entitled to 600 Euro each in compensation as part of the EU261 policy.

    Something makes me think airline will call it "weather related delay"...

    1. AA70 Gold

      I believe that still counts. My FRA-LHR flight was canceled due to thunderstorms and I received compensation for more than what I paid for the ticket. LH also gave me a meal voucher to eat (drink) something in the airport while I waited.

  18. SamB Member

    If they know this issue could happen frequently in the summer, they should make the scheduled arrival time later. If all goes well and the plane arrives 2 hours early, then great.

  19. Mason Guest

    Hey @Lucky, Delta has swapped the A332s for A339s on the LHR, AMS, and CDG routes for the summer from SLC. Not sure if this has to due with performance and range, but this took place in Apr/May of this year.

    1. Mason Guest

      Slight correction: A339 on all frequencies on the AMS and CDG routes, *some* frequencies on the LHR route

  20. Never In Doubt Guest

    “ Maybe I’m being too lenient toward Eurowings Discover”

    You’re being too lenient toward Eurowings Discover.

  21. Jonathan Gonzalez Guest

    The FAA raised average passenger weights a few months ago (not sure if this affects Eurowings and not sure if EASA had a similar measure) but that cut into payload as airlines now have to account additional weight for passengers and bags.

    Also, the issue with SLC isn’t necessarily (just) heat but heat AND altitude. Think about this from a hiking perspective. Even the most in shape person will struggle with a hike when...

    The FAA raised average passenger weights a few months ago (not sure if this affects Eurowings and not sure if EASA had a similar measure) but that cut into payload as airlines now have to account additional weight for passengers and bags.

    Also, the issue with SLC isn’t necessarily (just) heat but heat AND altitude. Think about this from a hiking perspective. Even the most in shape person will struggle with a hike when it’s at higher altitude. Throw in unusually hot temperatures and your performance decreases. Then carry a heavier than usual bag with you…you gotta stop for a break (more often). Same thing with airplanes.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Taking your nonsense analogy further, does that “in shape person” promise to make the hike and deliver a package at a certain time and then stop to rest and deliver it two hours later?

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PIP Hastings Guest

Air Dispatcher? Anyone here dispatch Air and control it's movement? SMH. They would be called Flight Dispatchers Fox 13. Which, quite frankly are some of the most important people to the safety, efficiency and well-being of a flight along with the Pilot-in Command and Flight Attendants. Also, I am grateful to you Ben that you called attention to the fact that FOX 13 was being overdramatic and highlighting righteous indignation to snag ratings...after all, it is July and it's sweeps month. As an airline employee, I have sympathy for both the airline and the passengers. First the passengers. Yes they paid for a non-stop flight and should be compensated for the alteration. BUT, at the same time do you think the airline could have predicted record highs?? No. Or I should say you think the short sighted planning department could care?? NO. the Flight Ops and Dispatchers bare the weight of the responsibility of this and the planning department leaves Flight Ops out to dry. Soo, yes it is 1000 percent true that the extreme heat in SLC is presenting problems for performance issues and limits the weight that can be taken. To people who say this is typical SLC weather??? They are wrong. No way in spirit prison that it's been this hot for this long. Yes 90's but we have been consistently around 100. Each degree increase can have 1,000 to 2,000 lbs restriction and make a big difference. In my opinion, the moral of the story is this: 1. News stations scare people to make money. That's a fact. 2. Passengers need to have a back up plan in all cases. 3. An Airline's planning department gets paid way too much. Dispatchers should be paid more. 4. We can't predict the weather. 5. Air travel theoretically shouldn't be possible, but it is. So we should be grateful that God gave us the intelligence to make it happen. Let's have a little patience with everyone.

2
Sean M. Diamond

The A330-300 in high density config can be a bit of a dog for performance. Not the first and not the last airline to have issues with this.

2
Mark Guest

US Airways flew A320 and A321 from PHX to the east coast for many years and had to take large weight restrictions or add fuel stops during hot summer days. You can’t deoptimize the route for 3 months because of a few edge cases (5-10 flights) that you can’t predict, especially when a fuel stop fulfills the obligation of getting everybody from point A to B. I’m guessing the weight restriction would be 50+ pax in this case which would also cause people to miss their planned vacations. It’s not just about getting off the runway before the end but also about how fast the aircraft can travel while on the ground without blowing tires.

2
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