Help on Horrible Flying on DAL KRDU-KLGA


#1

Hi All,

This is my first post and luckily it will be a good one. Last Monday I flew on what I considered the most uncomfortable flight ever, now this is coming from someone who loves to fly, has taken flying lessons, and closely follows aviation. I’m hoping someone who is familiar or works in the ATC/Airline industry could review the route and characteristics of my flight and give some feed back on what could of happened.

To summarize: Our ascent was extremly slow, as we stayed below 10,000 feet for a few minutes out of KRDU then finally resumed and leveled out at FL290 about 20 min after wheels up. About midway through the flight, the pilots suddenly cut back on the throttle (this is confirmed by flight tracking) from 380 knots down to 200 knots! Shortly after this, the pilot began making turns and after a while it was appearent we were flying in circles. I assumed we were either in a holding pattern or resolving some kind of mechanical issue. During this circling our airspeed changed drastically as we would speed up and slow down. The range of airspeed during this time ranged from 180-280 knots which seems extreme to me especially at that high of altitude. Finally after 10 minutes, we instantly sped up (to 460 knots) and resumed our route north. The whole cabin seemed very abrehensive and there was never once an annoucement or apology by the pilots or cabin crew and we were 45 min late into LGA from our stated arrival by the pilots before takeoff.

Please help!


#2

Obviously I don’t know exactly what happened but I have a few things to point out.
Yes, an announcement would have been nice.
A climb directly to cruise altitude in the Northeast US is rare, you cross arrival and departure paths to other airports fairly regularly. Holding patterns on departure on not unheard of in the NYC area.
The speeds you are seeing here are ground speeds. When entering a holding pattern in a jet it is normal to slow down in order to save fuel. It sounds like the power reduction could have been smoother. With a typical wind at FL 290 your ground speed in a holding pattern likely will change by 100 knots or more as you change from a headwind to a tailwind and back again. When either the problem or the ATC delay has been cleared up I can see a “resume normal speed” command from ATC being issued.

John


#3

Monday, 11-11-13…here is one of several Ops Plan issuances from the Air Traffic Control Command Center. This one is from early in the morning. Note the wind concerns: “NY Mets” means NY metro airports…Further down, there is a mention of “Wind Routes” for Newark and JFK. And later, a possibility of a ground stop at LGA. You can look at the whole day’s advisories here. Remember, they run on the Zulu day.

fly.faa.gov/adv/adv_list.jsp … ther=Other

So, not a highly unusual day, but something was happening on the routes up and down the Eastern Seaboard due to wind concerns. The controllers and the pilots were reacting to real time concerns while you were in the air.

ATCSCC ADVZY 018 DCC 11/11/2013 OPERATIONS PLAN

RAW TEXT:

ATCSCC ADVZY 018 DCC 11/11/13 OPERATIONS PLAN
VALID 1700Z AND LATER

TERMINAL CONSTRAINTS:
NYMETS-WIND
ORD-GUSTY WINDS/SN-RA/LOCIGS
SFO-LOCIGS
TEB-RWY 01/19 CLSD UNTIL 2000Z
FLL-RWY CONSTR

EN ROUTE CONSTRAINTS: NONE

  1. ROUTES
    UNTIL 0330 -EWR/JFK WIND ROUTES

  2. ZNY
    AFTER 1700 -LGA GROUND STOP POSSIBLE
    AFTER 1900 -EWR GROUND STOP/DELAY PROGRAM POSSIBLE

  3. ZAU
    UNTIL 0059 -ORD GROUND DELAY PROGRAM

  4. ZOA
    UNTIL 2159 -SFO GROUND DELAY PROGRAM

NEXT PLANNING TELCON: 1815Z
111624-111859

13/11/11 16:23 DCCOPS./nfs/lxstn35


#4

I’ve flown in and out of KLGA for many years and this sort of thing happens a lot unfortunately. I agree with porter jet when he talks about head winds and tail winds and how much an airplanes speed can fluctuate. As soon as you get the go ahead from ATC after you have been let out of a holding pattern there will definitely be a huge jump in airspeed if they tell you normal speed. Some arrivals have published airspeeds as well. Theirs tons of airplanes behind you when you fly into large volume airports like KLGA. I do think that the flight crew members should’ve said something to the passengers about the delay/holding pattern/45 minute delay but sometimes workload is huge once you’re under 10,000 feet. Being 45 minutes delayed into KLGA, I’ve learned is not a huge delay. Hope this helps a little! :smiley:


#5

Thank you all for the great responses, I found they very helpful. As a a matter of fact I just recently moved to NYC from California and thus have began to fly out of LGA and JFK so I’m not used to wildness that is New York airspace and the Eastern Seaboard flight paths. At least now if it happens again I won’t be concerned at all!

I’m guessing it gets even worse in winter with snow/wind delays?


#6

Nothing quite like air travel in the Northeast in the winter. I’ve been doing it for many, many years and you will have your fair share of delays, cancellations and a whole variety of other things… my most memorable was the go around in Albany during one particularly nasty snowstorm. We made it on the second try but I have never been that low before and have them throttle up.

Always factor in extra time… and watch the weather.