TWA & regular "unscheduled" refuelings in Gander

Date:         01 Feb 99 02:37:11 
From:         Roberto Celi <celi@eng.umd.edu>
Organization: University of Maryland, College Park
Followups:    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Next article
View raw article
  or MIME structure

A couple of weeks ago I flew from Rome to JFK on a TWA 767.  My final
destination was BWI, which I reached with a 24 hours delay (true to its
name, isn't it?  Tomorrow We Arrive...).  The "Flight From Hell"
included a refueling stop in Gander, which was announced as soon as we
taxied off the gate at FCO (and before a mechanical problem kept us 100
feet from the gate for about 2 hrs, but that's another story).

In almost 20 years of crossing the Atlantic, including many flights on
767s, I've *never* had to go through an "unscheduled" refueling stop.
The reason the pilot gave us was that separations had been increased at
JFK, and therefore we didn't have enough fuel to circle around waiting
to land.  When we got to JFK horizontal visibility seemed pretty much
unlimited, and the ceiling didn't look bad at all (1000-2000 ft?).  I'm
99% sure the aircraft was not a -300 or -300ER.  It was almost
completely full.  Still, it seemed a bit unusual to have to stop at
Gander.  Also, the announced flight time to Gander was about 7 hrs,
therefore the head winds couldn't have been much worse than usual
(FCO-JFK is usually about 10-10:30 hrs).

This morning I heard on the radio that there is a class action suit
brought by passengers of the TWA NYC-Tel Aviv flights.  Apparently,
these "unscheduled" stops at Gander are so common that the plaintiffs
claim that TWA should not advertise these flights as "non-stop".  The
radio was talking about 747s, but perhaps they meant 767s.

Now, I try to avoid anything that brings me anywhere near attorneys, so
I am absolutely not thinking of a lawsuit (the lawyers get all the money
anyway).  However, I *am* very curious to know if any other people in
this newsgroup have heard of this practice, with TWA or other
airlines--schedule the smaller plane, see what the load factor is, and
if it's too full come up with an "unscheduled" refueling stop at Gander
blaming bad weather at the final destination, or winds en route, or
whatever they can come up with at the time.  Doesn't the basic 767
(-200?) have the range to go FCO-JFK?

Roberto