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Plane swapping policy

New Arrival

I am just looking for clarification regarding “plane swapping” policy. Our plane arrived, it is a direct flight with no weather issues at our destination city. They decided to “plane swap” and gave our plane to The flight that is outbound to Chicago. How and why do they decide one is more important than the other? Why not keep the outbound flight that is set to be on time continue vs making 2 flights late? We are currently 2 hours delayed but am very unsatisfied regarding why it was handled this way. 

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Re: Plane swapping policy

Active Member

As somebody who has done my share of "plane swapping" at another airline, I can tell you that there is no such thing as a "plane swapping policy." The reasons for aircraft swaps are numerous and there isn't a manual to explain all the events that warrant (or don't warrant) a swap.

As an example, a flight on a maintenance delay may have a flight crew that is close to their legal duty limit. If the maintenance delay stretches on, the crew may not be able to legally complete their flight resulting in not only the cancellation of the delayed flight but also the return flight from wherever the the crew was flying to. In this case, it makes sense to swap to an aircraft without maintenance so that the flight crew can depart before they run out of duty time. While it may inconvenience the passengers whose aircraft is taken, in the big picture it's better to delay one flight's passengers than cancel two flights.

Other reasons for aircraft swaps include unforeseen maintenance events that require routing to an overnight maintenance base, inoperable auxiliary power units ("APUs") that prevent a given aircraft from operating to an airport without equipment for performing engine starts, cancellations and passenger backlogs at a given airport that require a change from a 737-700 to a higher-capacity 737-800, etc., etc., etc. Swaps are never desirable but the ultimate goal is to keep the network operation running while inconveniencing as few passengers as possible.

I realize my explanation does nothing to reduce the inconvenience that you are experiencing tonight, but I hope it at least gives you a better sense of why plane swaps are done.

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Re: Plane swapping policy

New Arrival

Thank you. It certainly helps with the understanding and that there are many variables. 

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Re: Plane swapping policy

Top Contributor

Well, your post does not provide enough detail to do any detailed speculating, but I can portray a scenario that fits what you said.

 

1) the flight to Chicago was already late due to a maintenance problem that was being worked on when your flight arrived

2) the airline decided to let the Chicago fight have your plane so that it could get on it's way and not be delayed further. At that point you were not late.

3) the airline thought it could get the "broken" plane fixed fast enough that you wouldn;t be delayed for long

4) The airline hoped for a solution that involved two flights with relatively short delays instead of one on time flight and one delayed for a longer period that would make connecting passengers miss their flights. The hope being that connecting passengers on both flights would have a chance to make their connections

5) Maybe the original Chicago plane took longer to fix than they thought it would.

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Re: Plane swapping policy

New Arrival

Thanks

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Re: Plane swapping policy

Active Member

@Sayspence wrote:

Thanks


You are welcome. I'm sorry for the delay you experienced and hope you reached your destination at a reasonable time.