United Airlines’ Impressive Iceland Diversion

United Airlines’ Impressive Iceland Diversion

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Passengers on yesterday’s United Airlines flight from Athens to Newark had a very long day, as the flight was delayed by five hours on departure, then diverted to Iceland, and then arrived at Newark nearly 10 hours late.

However, as details of the flight emerge, I can’t help but be impressed by how United handled this situation, because it seems the airline made the best of a tough, unavoidable problem.

United’s awful-sounding Athens to Newark flight

United Airlines operates a daily seasonal flight between Athens and Newark using a Boeing 787-10. On Sunday, August 14, 2022, UA125 was scheduled to depart Athens at 12:15PM and arrive at Newark at 4:00PM. The flight was blocked at 10hr45min, and was supposed to cover a distance of just under 5,000 miles.

Here’s what actually ended up happening:

  • The flight ended up operating from Athens (ATH) to Keflavik (KEF), departing at 5:15PM and arriving at 8:35PM (yes, the flight departed five hours late)
  • After being on the ground in Iceland for over three hours, the flight operated from Keflavik (KEF) to Newark (EWR), departing at 11:46PM and arriving at 1:38AM
  • In the end, the flight arrived at Newark over nine hours behind schedule
Flight status for yesterday’s UA125

There’s no denying that this was a really rough travel day for all involved, as being delayed by nearly 10 hours isn’t fun. Naturally you might also think that United majorly screwed something up here, to cause a situation like this. However, as I take a look at what we know, I think United actually did a remarkably good job…

Why a United 787 diverted to Iceland

So, what caused all of these issues? According to passengers onboard, they were told that the original captain for the flight had tested positive for coronavirus. While United hasn’t officially confirmed that, the airline stated the reason for the delay was an “unexpected crew scheduling disruption,” so that kind of adds up.

Piecing together the details, what likely happened here? Here’s how I think this played out:

  • One of the pilots tested positive for coronavirus during the layover; the Athens to Newark flight requires three pilots due to its length, so two pilots couldn’t have operated this flight
  • United could have canceled the flight and tried to get an extra pilot to Athens somehow, but that would have been tricky — it wouldn’t be easy to find hotel rooms for 300+ people in Athens in summer, and it’s not even a guarantee that the airline could get an extra pilot there within 24 hours, while they still have their contractual rest period prior to operating a flight
  • So United got creative and decided to still operate a flight, but with a stop in Keflavik, Iceland, which is roughly the halfway point of the journey; just two pilots could operate the Athens to Keflavik portion of the flight, and then United could fly a replacement crew to Keflavik to pick up the plane there
  • Why the five hour delay departing Athens? Presumably the replacement crew flew with United from Newark to Keflavik, and then needed to still have their minimum rest time, so delaying the departure from Athens minimized the amount of time passengers would spend on the ground in Iceland

It also sounds like the crew handoff in Iceland would have gone smoothly, except there was a sick child who had to be offloaded at Keflavik Airport.

That then caused a further delay, because a medical kit had allegedly been used for the sick passenger, and a replacement one was required before the flight could continue.

By all accounts the crew was extremely professional throughout the situation.

Kudos to United on this

Assuming all of this played out the way I imagine (which I think it did, based on passenger reports), then I’m extremely impressed by how United handled this situation. There’s nothing an airline can do about a pilot testing positive for coronavirus, and that’s going to cause major issues when you’re 5,000 miles from your closest pilot base.

With that in mind, clearly United developed a plan immediately, repositioned pilots to Iceland, delayed the flight out of Greece to minimize the time the plane would spend on the ground in Iceland, etc. Unfortunately a child apparently became sick, which caused a further delay in Iceland, but again, that’s not within the carrier’s control.

That doesn’t take away from the fact that this was very frustrating for passengers, and made for a really long day. But I also think it’s funny how some passengers criticize the airline, claiming United “could have made different decisions,” and that “going to a remote airport with no infrastructure was not smart.” I’d like to hear this guy’s plan. 😉

Also, to passengers on this flight, keep in mind that thanks to EU261, you’re entitled to 600 Euro cash compensation for the delay. So to the lady saying United better reimburse her for the hotel at Newark, you’re actually entitled to much more.

Bottom line

Yesterday’s United Airlines flight from Athens to Newark had a major disruption due to a pilot testing positive for coronavirus. Since a relief pilot is needed for a flight of this length, the plane ended up making a stop in Iceland, where new pilots took over.

The plane landed at Newark nearly 10 hours late, so this was no doubt extremely frustrating for passengers. However, operationally I couldn’t see a much better outcome, and I think United deserves some credit for trying to make the best of a bad situation.

What do you make of how United handled this situation?

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  1. Dave Guest

    United deserves every right to sue the guy who tweeted about a desolate Iceland for defamation

  2. Curtis Guest

    Under EU rules ever passenger should get at least significant +/- 800 USD compensation. This is not optional this is what EU rules require when an airline operates like this. In any event, I think anyone is foolish to fly United. I stopped years ago because of their poor service.

    1. HkCaGu Guest

      Sorry but the euro is now below par for USD, so you may not even get $600.

  3. Maxine Guest

    American Airlines would still be on the ground in Athens figuring it out! Kudos UA

  4. Rahul Iyer Guest

    Maybe United can 'teach' it's Star Alliance partners from this. I have my choice of words for Air India, one of their partners, but will keep them to myself, as I do not want to type scatalogical language in a forum.

  5. Carol Bromby Guest

    Great job United.

  6. Mary Guest

    Actually very impressive how this was handled. I'd take this over spending a night in the Athens airport any day.

  7. Daniel Ross Guest

    I was on the ground in Athens when this was all going on and I couldn't for the life of me work out why the flight was already showing as diverting to Iceland before it had even taken off!

    Thanks for shedding some light!

  8. Mick Guest

    Sounds horrible to me. I’d much rather wait a day. Did the passengers have an option.

    Ben, these situations are a lot different now that you have a boy in tow. Long layovers and midnight flights are bad enough alone haha.

    Def don’t want to fly to AMS and try to connect there. It’s chaos.

    1. Mary Guest

      Hotel rooms are difficult to come by in Europe right now. Would you rather spend the night at the airport with a baby? Pay an insane amount for a hotel?

  9. FlyerDon Guest

    If it was the captain that tested positive I’m wondering how two first officers flew the plane anywhere. Maybe the flight crew included a check pilot or maybe it wasn’t the captain that tested positive. I’m also curious about United’s policy regarding exposure to Covid. Assuming this crew flew together to Athens, weren’t the other two pilots exposed to Covid? Even if they tested negative in Athens I can’t believe they would let them operate the return flight.

  10. dan3mike Guest

    So I guess Sean M is willing to pay double or even triple to have crew at every outstation

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      No, I'm saying that United, like most companies, chooses to effectively assume the risk of flight disruption due to crew unavailability at outstations. That does not absolve them from statutory EU compensation to be paid to passengers.

    2. Lieflat19 Member

      I don't think anyone is saying otherwise?

  11. GG Guest

    A standby crew at every outstation SeanM just waiting for the possibility?
    Maybe having 25 quarterbacks on every team just in case 24 get hurt?
    How unrealistic an expectation and pointing fingers saying chaching chaching.
    Shit happens. Don’t travel by plane if you can’t handle risk of delay……drive your own car. See the country. It’s beautiful.

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      Nobody is saying they should do that. All I'm saying is that they COULD do that but chose not to, which means they alternatively have to pay the statutory EU compensation for the delay. A business decision which didn't work out this time.

  12. glenn t Diamond

    KEF is hardly a 'remote' airport with no infrastructure. It is quite a busy international airport more than able than most to handle unscheduled and emergency landings as well as the many scheduled.
    As for 'remote' I assume the commentor does not have a globe of the world on their desk! One look would show how strategic KEF actually is !

  13. Reed Guest

    Next time fly Imelda Marcos Airways.

  14. Ken Guest

    Its more accurate to say United made the best of a situation created in part by its own policies. They could choose to be stricter on their airline crew, ground personnel and passengers as COVID is still spreading and there are people traveling who are high-risk, but instead its you feel like wearing a mask? Its up to you whether to put everyone at risk or not. Being sheep behind Delta's Ed Bastian is hardly...

    Its more accurate to say United made the best of a situation created in part by its own policies. They could choose to be stricter on their airline crew, ground personnel and passengers as COVID is still spreading and there are people traveling who are high-risk, but instead its you feel like wearing a mask? Its up to you whether to put everyone at risk or not. Being sheep behind Delta's Ed Bastian is hardly a badge of honor for United Airlines, who took a leadership position in 2020 with COVID.

    1. Diana Pinto-Gomez Guest

      I was actually on this flight and I disagree. United could of handled this better in many ways. We didn’t even leave Athens in time and all we got were excuses the entire night. We were told we had to wait for a piece of paper from a mechanic which is ridiculous its 2022 carry a tablet and sign it through docu sign we were in Iceland sitting on a plane for 3 hours before...

      I was actually on this flight and I disagree. United could of handled this better in many ways. We didn’t even leave Athens in time and all we got were excuses the entire night. We were told we had to wait for a piece of paper from a mechanic which is ridiculous its 2022 carry a tablet and sign it through docu sign we were in Iceland sitting on a plane for 3 hours before we took off again to Newark. United is patting its back and the real heros here are the passengers who switch seats for restless kids to sleep and who assisted one another through all the anxiety and frustration.
      The second crew didn’t even know how to assist they felt so bad and even stated they were in the dark in many ways.
      United needs to remember to appreciate its customers and treat them right by communicating.

    2. JWags Guest

      So its United's fault that the Greek aviation authorities don't use tablets yet. Gotcha.

      But yes, you're a true hero for surviving such an ordeal. Switching seats, my god, Captain Sully-like bravery in the face of unspeakable challenges. I hope they don't skimp on the plaque commemorating your bravery at both KEF and ATH.

  15. Deedee Guest

    I had the same thought about KEF. Having been to KEF last year I’d hardly say it had no infrastructure. In fact if I’d had to divert there I’d have stayed for a week.

  16. Doug DeNunzio Guest

    A weird way to stay alive and afloat in the pandemic by having problems with the aircraft.

  17. JP Guest

    I have experienced a similar story flying United....from LAX via SFX to Hong Kong. We were delayed approximately 30 + hours with having to wondered in SFX with overnight on our own. U A may think they're creative, why not divert us to other airlines or at least put us on the next day same flight, even if they had to add another flight. Can't say I appreciated the delay. BAD news

  18. Always Flying Somewhere Guest

    This story also demonstrates the lack of understanding and utter selfishness of some people and there's nothing UA (or any other carrier) could have done to appease them. Yes, it's no doubt, frustrating, but until the day that airliners are able to fly without qualified crewmembers, these things are bound to happen.

    If only people realized the "symphony orchestra" that collaborates to perform miracles and minimize the effects of these kinds of irregular operations....

    This story also demonstrates the lack of understanding and utter selfishness of some people and there's nothing UA (or any other carrier) could have done to appease them. Yes, it's no doubt, frustrating, but until the day that airliners are able to fly without qualified crewmembers, these things are bound to happen.

    If only people realized the "symphony orchestra" that collaborates to perform miracles and minimize the effects of these kinds of irregular operations. Things fell into place as best they could, but it could have been far worse. Keep in mind that IROPS bring no joy to airline employees responsible for getting this flight from A to B and it isn't fun for the company either.

    1. GLCTraveler Member

      Kudos to you Always Flying Somewhere, too too many of the flying public are selfish little 9-year-old crybabies that just need a bottle and a wake-up call to the real world..... Either that or a timeout after a Louisville Slugger to the head!! Grow-up people and take your EU261 compensation and next time take a boat or better yet stay home!! ;-)

  19. Nino69 Guest

    @ Ted Stryker

    Wow, your comment just exhibits your shear ignorance and the continued stupid politicalization about COVID.

    Perhaps if wasn’t for stupid comments like yours that still keep floating up like s#@t in a cesspool then we might have had a fighting chance to make contracting the virus an exception than a continued norm.

    So glad that folks believed in science facts when the Polio vaccine was introduced and ignorant folks like you...

    @ Ted Stryker

    Wow, your comment just exhibits your shear ignorance and the continued stupid politicalization about COVID.

    Perhaps if wasn’t for stupid comments like yours that still keep floating up like s#@t in a cesspool then we might have had a fighting chance to make contracting the virus an exception than a continued norm.

    So glad that folks believed in science facts when the Polio vaccine was introduced and ignorant folks like you were nowhere to be found.

    Unless you have something constructive to add, please be on your way

  20. Jamron Guest

    Good thing it wasn't Air Canada.. you still wouldn't be there!

    1. Bob Guest

      And you d be stranded in Iceland with noone picking up the phone ....

    2. AwesomeAl New Member

      Too true. ACA is pretty bad in my experience.

  21. Ken Guest

    Absolutely the least sucks option and we'll handled by UA. The "all about me dot com" crowd won't be pragmatic but that won't ever change. UA does a very good job if you work with the teams and not against them. It is truly amazing work with so many things to juggle, many outside their control

  22. Beatriz Fernandez Guest

    The most important is the safety of passangers ! I never get disgusted because i think some people make shows and You don't know if is better STAY in land because maybe the airplane could have some failires and can have accidents ,keep un mind your life is more valuable

  23. Atlas Flowers Guest

    Our Newark to Milano flight in early June was delayed 5 and 1/2 hours due to thunderstorms, but I was thrilled it eventually took off. We arrived late and the turnaround flight was then also delayed. United kept asking passengers if they wanted to change to the next evening's flight. But we stuck it out. P.S. The same flight the next evening was canceled. Flying anywhere today is a gamble. Not like the "good old...

    Our Newark to Milano flight in early June was delayed 5 and 1/2 hours due to thunderstorms, but I was thrilled it eventually took off. We arrived late and the turnaround flight was then also delayed. United kept asking passengers if they wanted to change to the next evening's flight. But we stuck it out. P.S. The same flight the next evening was canceled. Flying anywhere today is a gamble. Not like the "good old days," which wasn't that long ago. But anytime your flight isn't canceled and only delayed, consider yourself lucky. And if you don't get it, then you haven't been flying very long.

  24. Oleg Guest

    United is one of most disorganized and leaderless company. They always in delay mode. Customer care is sporadic and replaced with AI . Really terrible

    1. SB Guest

      I'd argue they've handled the SUmmer chaos better than most...

    2. JWags Guest

      Which has zero to do with this flight and how it was handled. Thanks for your tangential gripes!

  25. Jan Guest

    This guy just described KEF like an abandoned airfield in middle-of-nowhere, Nebraska.

    I hate Twitter for giving idiots like this one a platform.

    1. AwesomeAl New Member

      Clearly an American.

      (Disclaimer: I am an American!)

    2. Lieflat19 Member

      what does that have to do with anything? I'm sure there are europeans who think Denver or Phoenix is in the middle of nowhere.

  26. John H Guest

    I don’t fly United, but was impressed with how the situation was handled. Most important word “handled.” They didn’t just key people sit, stranded. They but they best alternative plan into action and it worked. Plenty of nay sayers, but everyone is home and safe….except that poor child. Hopefully recovered. Now, Sean M, aren’t embarrassed by your stupid comment! Let’s say UA has 50 “out post” stations. You think they would pay 3 pilots to...

    I don’t fly United, but was impressed with how the situation was handled. Most important word “handled.” They didn’t just key people sit, stranded. They but they best alternative plan into action and it worked. Plenty of nay sayers, but everyone is home and safe….except that poor child. Hopefully recovered. Now, Sean M, aren’t embarrassed by your stupid comment! Let’s say UA has 50 “out post” stations. You think they would pay 3 pilots to sit at “50 outposts” just in case! This is the first time in 2-3 years I’ve heard of this happening. So, 3 pilots x 50 outposts x 3 years….your ticket home would cost you around 300 grand! Get real cry babies. A situation happened and they dealt with it creatively and timely considering the alternatives.

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      They did a great job handling the situation. However that doesn't absolve them of their responsibility to pay statutory compensation under EU 261/2004. The situation does not meet the test of "extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken".

  27. GBOAC Diamond

    I'm very impressed with the creative plan that United developed to deal with the unfortunate turn of events in Athens.
    I am curious whether (and how much of this plan) they explained this to the passengers waiting to board in ATH.

  28. HkCaGu Guest

    The original scheduled ATH departure was 5 am EDT. UA's EWR-KEF departs at 9 pm EDT, and I assume any last flight from NYC leaves by midnight. So unless the pilot called in sick many hours ahead, I'm betting that the KEF relief crew did not come from NYC. Most likely it's from London. UA has a LHR FA base, and have so many LHR daily flights so there must have been spare pilots (and...

    The original scheduled ATH departure was 5 am EDT. UA's EWR-KEF departs at 9 pm EDT, and I assume any last flight from NYC leaves by midnight. So unless the pilot called in sick many hours ahead, I'm betting that the KEF relief crew did not come from NYC. Most likely it's from London. UA has a LHR FA base, and have so many LHR daily flights so there must have been spare pilots (and easier to resupply LHR from any US bases). There must be multiple flights LON-KEF to transport crew to operate KEF-EWR, possibly contributing to the delay.

    1. Ken Guest

      Absolutely the least sucks option and we'll handled by UA. The "all about me dot com" crowd won't be pragmatic but that won't ever change. UA does a very good job if you work with the teams and not against them. It is truly amazing work with so many things to juggle, many outside their control

  29. Dave O. Guest

    This happened to me on AA on BRU-ORD back in 2003. It was delayed for a mechanical and took off a few hours late. They calculated they would be over all the way to ORD so they rerouted to JFK just to get us stateside at least. We had to deplane and clear customs. I was one of the first off the plane and got some strange looks by customs and immigration. Apparently no one...

    This happened to me on AA on BRU-ORD back in 2003. It was delayed for a mechanical and took off a few hours late. They calculated they would be over all the way to ORD so they rerouted to JFK just to get us stateside at least. We had to deplane and clear customs. I was one of the first off the plane and got some strange looks by customs and immigration. Apparently no one told them a reroute/diversion was coming through. Had to re clear security and we were on our way in a few hours with a new crew. Worked out perfectly. I was very happy to not get stranded in Brussels.

    1. JWags Guest

      Interesting, similar situation for me returning from HK to ORD. Maintenance delays on the ground at HKG. Crew timed out occurred during the flight so ended up stopping at SFO. But nobody disembarked, so as not to deal with customs, they got a new crew on within an hour, and we resumed to ORD.

  30. Andrew Guest

    No EU261 compensation payable here as it was an extraordinary circumstance - ground delay due to crew sick at outstation and pax sickness offload.

    Crew sick at hub/base is generally considered foreseeable and eligible for compensation though

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      How is contracting COVID an extraordinary circumstance over two years into the pandemic? United has the ability to position standby crew at each and every outstation to mitigate this risk but they choose not to for financial reasons. That didn't pay off this time and hence compensation is absolutely due to the passengers. Ka-ching!!!!

    2. DLPTATL Diamond

      I can't believe I'm in any way making excuses for United, but it's simply not possible to station standby crew at every outstation airport United flies to (120 international destinations according to their website) given the industry's pilot shortage, not to mention the incredible cost, time away from family spent in hotel rooms just-in-case, and difficult, if not impossible, labor rules/negotiations required.

    3. Sean M. Diamond

      Not practical for sure, but by no means impossible.

      If they are short of pilots to do this, then they could choose to fly less flights to less places. If they union won't agree, they could offer higher financial incentives or simply eliminate flying to airports that are not crew domiciles. Of course, they won't do that because they can make more money by flying and taking the risk of not having standby crew at...

      Not practical for sure, but by no means impossible.

      If they are short of pilots to do this, then they could choose to fly less flights to less places. If they union won't agree, they could offer higher financial incentives or simply eliminate flying to airports that are not crew domiciles. Of course, they won't do that because they can make more money by flying and taking the risk of not having standby crew at outstations.

      99.9% of the time, that risk pays off. This was the 0.01% and they will need to pay the statutory compensation accordingly.

    4. Eskimo Guest

      Interesting to see how EU261 plays out.
      Both sides does seem to have valid arguments.

      @Sean M.
      You can also see this as similar to bird strikes. A bird hit a plane. A virus hit a pilot.
      Your reason is 'over two years into the pandemic', how about evolution of flying creatures over billions of years. We've known birds fly since the dawn of humanity.
      And 'ability to position standby crew...

      Interesting to see how EU261 plays out.
      Both sides does seem to have valid arguments.

      @Sean M.
      You can also see this as similar to bird strikes. A bird hit a plane. A virus hit a pilot.
      Your reason is 'over two years into the pandemic', how about evolution of flying creatures over billions of years. We've known birds fly since the dawn of humanity.
      And 'ability to position standby crew at each and every outstation to mitigate this risk', how about an extra aircraft every outstation. Birds are everywhere right?

      So if birds are extraordinary, why not virus.

    5. Andrew Guest

      I see your point but no mainline airline I know has standby flight crews at outstations, it’s not reasonable. The EU agrees flight crew sickness at outstations is an extraordinary circumstance, no compensation due.

    6. Pilot Guest

      Sean M,
      You have no clue as to what it would take "to position standby crew at each and every outstation". Your commentary is laughable.

  31. Brandon Guest

    Ben, I would agree that it was smart to get relief crew to Iceland and divert there, and it likely happens more than we realize in these situations but flying public is never appreciative of getting halfway there, and go nuts on the airlines.

    Flying Public does not understands the union work rules, different EU and US rules, ATC, specific airport rules, regulations and their nexus when something like a Captain goes down w...

    Ben, I would agree that it was smart to get relief crew to Iceland and divert there, and it likely happens more than we realize in these situations but flying public is never appreciative of getting halfway there, and go nuts on the airlines.

    Flying Public does not understands the union work rules, different EU and US rules, ATC, specific airport rules, regulations and their nexus when something like a Captain goes down w covid,,,It's hundreds of "Moving Parts to manage"

  32. NycAlex Member

    Hold up - did that person call KEF a remote airport with no infrastructure? It’s a decent sized city…

    1. JWags Guest

      He also chalked it up to "Getting away with horrendous experiences for your fliers" like it was a plane with broken IFE or terrible food situations, not an unplanned medical situation that they navigated smoothly and to the best of their ability.

      Same kind of clueless idiot that says "Never flying UA again" after a general travel mishap when they fly twice a year for vacation and choose whatever airline is cheapest.

    2. AwesomeAl New Member

      Agreed, KEF is a real airport and that person doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

  33. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Well run airlines plan for stuff like this. They also have to be prepared to rescue passengers when a diversion has to be made to any number of remote locations around the world.
    The crew member probably informed UA crew scheduling far enoug in advance that they could start planning. ATH is far enough from the US that you can fly a chunk of the flight with one pilot.
    As for people suggesting...

    Well run airlines plan for stuff like this. They also have to be prepared to rescue passengers when a diversion has to be made to any number of remote locations around the world.
    The crew member probably informed UA crew scheduling far enoug in advance that they could start planning. ATH is far enough from the US that you can fly a chunk of the flight with one pilot.
    As for people suggesting stopping elsewhere in Europe, the flight was so far off schedule that no other hubs would have connected on top of the extra procedures to reroute people and bags when the delayed ATH flight arrived.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      correction - one set of pilots ie. no relief pilot.

    2. AAisnotwellrun Guest

      Tim is right, well run airlines do this all the time. DL135 diverted to BOS on July 20 because it left AMS with only 2 pilots due to illness involving the 3rd. Delta sent 2 A350 pilots to relieve the original flight crew in Boston and the flight landed in DTW about 3 hours late. This would have been a non-issue had this flight been operated by an EU carrier as they routinely fly over 8 hours without a 3rd flight crew member.

  34. LEo Diamond

    I understand that KEF is the closet airport UA operates from USA, however, couldn't they just fly the plane to CDG/ORY or even AMS to re-route people through other flights to other united hubs such as SFO,IAD,IAH or even ORD?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ LEo -- It seems that would have complicated things significantly. First of all, the flight would have arrived at a time where it was too late for same day connections. Second of all, once you start taking passengers off the plane, things get significantly more complicated in terms of luggage, entry requirements, etc. Lastly, with the chaos at many airports in Europe, I think getting back to the US as quickly as possible was probably a smart move.

    2. Jason Guest

      How would that have helped - getting people to somewhere like FRankfurt and putting them on flights to other UA hubs - when I bet you on a flight from ATH to EWR the majority of the passengers had EWR as their final destination? United has routinely said that on their EWR flights 50-75% of passengers are going to Newark as a final destination, so how would that proposition help?
      Also, to Lucky's point,...

      How would that have helped - getting people to somewhere like FRankfurt and putting them on flights to other UA hubs - when I bet you on a flight from ATH to EWR the majority of the passengers had EWR as their final destination? United has routinely said that on their EWR flights 50-75% of passengers are going to Newark as a final destination, so how would that proposition help?
      Also, to Lucky's point, with a scheduled noon or so departure from Athens, the flight wouldnt have been able to get to any of UA's other European departure points by a time any flights were still there. And finally, if it could, it's not like there would have been 300 seats to accommodate those passengers. It's the end of summer and all of those flights are FULL bringing people home to the US. Or Europeans to the US for their vacations, as their vacations typically start in August just as Americans' vacations are ending.
      Bottom line, having worked in operations for large US carriers and knowing how tough it is when things go wrong far from home, I think United came up with a creative solution to solving a tricky challenge, based on what I can tell.

    3. Scott Guest

      AMS has flight caps and I'm sure people would have loved enduring the 2-4 hour security lines that are a regular scene in AMS this summer, imagine the complaints then. Plus if all the flights are full some passengers could end up waiting days in another city and then take a plane completely out of the rotation for another day means cancellations elsewhere from where that plane was supposed to be.

      End of the day...

      AMS has flight caps and I'm sure people would have loved enduring the 2-4 hour security lines that are a regular scene in AMS this summer, imagine the complaints then. Plus if all the flights are full some passengers could end up waiting days in another city and then take a plane completely out of the rotation for another day means cancellations elsewhere from where that plane was supposed to be.

      End of the day KEF was on the flight home path, they may have even put a pilot or additional crew on Iceland Air from London to KEF and send a new crew from the US for the next days departures.

      There is A LOT more that goes into these decisions than people think.

  35. Joe Guest

    Check out UA2 on August 10.

    1. Liz Guest

      We lived in Puerto Rico the year of Hurricane Maria. The day before I got a flight out of PR. The flight was suppose to come from Chicago. At the last minute they cancelled the flight so as not to strand their crew in PR for the hurricane. A good thing since there were no flights for awhile after Maria. UA sent an empty plane with a additional crew to do the return trip. They...

      We lived in Puerto Rico the year of Hurricane Maria. The day before I got a flight out of PR. The flight was suppose to come from Chicago. At the last minute they cancelled the flight so as not to strand their crew in PR for the hurricane. A good thing since there were no flights for awhile after Maria. UA sent an empty plane with a additional crew to do the return trip. They landed and we were the last flight out hours before Maria wrecked havoc on Puerto Rico. I am very thankful of UA handling of the situation.

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Jan Guest

This guy just described KEF like an abandoned airfield in middle-of-nowhere, Nebraska. I hate Twitter for giving idiots like this one a platform.

4
Always Flying Somewhere Guest

This story also demonstrates the lack of understanding and utter selfishness of some people and there's nothing UA (or any other carrier) could have done to appease them. Yes, it's no doubt, frustrating, but until the day that airliners are able to fly without qualified crewmembers, these things are bound to happen. If only people realized the "symphony orchestra" that collaborates to perform miracles and minimize the effects of these kinds of irregular operations. Things fell into place as best they could, but it could have been far worse. Keep in mind that IROPS bring no joy to airline employees responsible for getting this flight from A to B and it isn't fun for the company either.

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SB Guest

I'd argue they've handled the SUmmer chaos better than most...

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