View Full Version : Routing info for pax

3rd Jun 2004, 01:05
I recently enjoyed, as SLF, a flight at FL 350 in clear daytime skies from DFW to ORD on a major US airline. The flight deck advised us twice what the temperature and weather were at the destination (as if that were so important) but failed to provide any detail whatsoever of our route or to identify a single feature on the ground that we overflew. It's been my experience of late that the flight deck tends to maintain radio silence as much as possible.
What is it with you airline pilots? Are you scared of disturbing your pax? Isn't it good PR to maintain contact with them, keep them informed, satisfy their curiosity, etc.?
Rockhound :*
PS I'm writing to the CEO of the airline concerned to complain.

3rd Jun 2004, 01:14
Rockhound... When the aircraft PA is used all in flight entertainment is over ridden thus passengers can and do become annoyed at any interuption.

A small point, but pilots are renouned for their fear of the PA system.

3rd Jun 2004, 02:22

Great that you enjoyed your recent flight, a bit of a shame that you see fit to write to the CEO to complain then ? Still he or she will probably laugh, I did !

You have to remember that the primary function of the flight deck crew is to get you safely to your destination. It is very likely that the Captain (or First Officer) will also welcome the passengers on board with a few pertinent facts and bits of advice that may ( or may not) be of interest to the majority of the passengers. The weather at destination often is.

If time permits and it is deemed of general interest then a brief synopsis of the route might be given. However due to weather and en-route shortcuts or re-routes, the original overflight points may not actually occur. Additionally one individual may be fascinated by every "feature" they fly over, but a regular commuter most certainly isn't. It is not the flight deck crews job to entertain you even if you consider that to be good "PR". A couple of hours in the air may pass slowly to you, but the crew will be very busy dealing with the business of operating the aircraft and maintaing the high levels of monitoring and situational awareness that are so important in a high density traffic environment.

There is no radio silence as you put it, the radio is extremely busy ! Non essential PA's from the flight deck are therefore usually avoided and even when they are given it is normally to convey something that may be of interest to the majority of the passengers.

To answer your question, no we are not "afraid" of disturbing our passengers, however common sense and best practice dictates that our passengers do not want to be unnecessarily disturbed. It is a case of striking a balance, and that balance is heavily weighted in favour or getting on with the business of conducting a safe and efficient public transport operation.

Still as I said at the start of this reply, it was great that you actually enjoyed the flight :ok:

Of course it has to be said it would be nice if a few of the passengers listened more closely to some of the things that were said to them on the PA by us and the cabin crew. Maybe then there wouldn't be the need for those individuals to stand up while taxying or ignore the seatbelt signs etc. I suppose that in itself is another arguement for keeping the PA's simple and to the point.

4th Jun 2004, 00:56
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my posting. However, I couldn't disagree with you more.
I am reminded of a flight I took with Aeroflot from Moscow to Montreal in 1985 (pre-perestroika). We were over the N Atlantic when suddenly a rugged landscape of mountains and glaciers appeared to starboard. The pax all craned their necks and I wondered if we were passing Svalbard. So I asked the FA where we were. She consulted her little crib sheet and said "Ocean, ocean". I pointed out we were looking at land and asked her to request our location from the captain. Word came back that we had been looking at eastern Iceland. Shortly thereafter we passed the south tip of Greenland, gleaming in the sunlight. Not a word from the FD.
You seem content to play the part of a (glorified) truck driver hauling a load of cattle across country and consider the job well done when you deliver the load safely at the destination. Well, I happen to think one can make more of the job than that. It would have taken the crew of the DFW-ORD flight less than 30 sec to advise the pax of the routing. If it changed during the course of the flight, they could easily have issued a correction. They could have pointed out particular features of interest as they appeared, such as the Mississippi and the huge, ring-shaped particle accelerator of the U of Chicago's Fermi Lab near Batavia. (I've reconstructed the route using a road atlas and notes and sketches I made during the flight).
Yes, I did enjoy the flight but not thanks to the airline's staff, who provided the usual minimal N American service ("Whaddya want to drink?").
And BTW I don't think the airline's CEO will find a letter from an unhappy customer all that hilarious, as he watches the red ink bleed from his profit-and-loss statement.
Happy landings!

Thanks for your reply. There was no on-board entertainment system but what you said about pilots and the PA system confirmed my suspicions.

4th Jun 2004, 01:56
OK whatever !

I will pray that before the red ink bleeds from our corporate veins we are all sent on radio personaility courses to satisfy the hoardes of similarly like minded people. :D

" Hi folks on our left side is a great view of an F16 that has just intercepted us because I was too busy yakking to you for the 5th time in the last hour. Smile and wave at the nice man before he gets all edgy."

4th Jun 2004, 08:06
Points to ponder when you have to decide on which airline to fly as understood from some of the postings in these forums

1 Human rights policy of the airline management
2 Ease of chatting up the cabin crew
3 Tour guiding abilty of the flight crew

Whatever happened to such trivial issues like convenient timings , quality of inflight service , ease of check in etc etc...? Didn't realise that 21st century is already so dramatically different from the 20th!

Keep them coming......


4th Jun 2004, 10:35
You have obviously not flown BA recently..they would meet your every desire......

Recent Tokyo-London BA

1. CSD welcome
2. Ethinic welcome
3. FD welcome
4. Ethnic FD welcome
5. Post take-off announcement re entertainment,dinner drinks etc.
6 Ethnic repeat
7. Children of the World announcement
8. Ethnic repeat
9. "Howdy Folks" (well, English version thereof) from FD we'll be there ahead of schedule etc.
10. Ethnic Repeat

Peace and quiet for 2 minutes

11. CSD announcement about restart of video system because it isn't working.
12. Ethnic repeat

Meal and Drinks

13. Duty free announcement
14. Ethnic repeat.

Peace and quiet for nine hours

15. CSD landing cards
16. Ethnic repeat

17. FD "We've been pedalling fast" speech
18. Ethnic repeat
19. CC Prepare for landing speech
20. Ethnic repeat
21. "Youngest/newest member of the crew" welcome to London speech
22. Ethnic repeat
23. FD "Sorry we have to wait because no ones on the gate" speech
24. Ethnic Repeat
25.FD (Proudly) " Got you here 30 seconds early Doors to Manual stay seated" speech.
26. Ethnic Repeat

Surely that's enough for anyone....!!

Of course, add in a nice One-World Alliance flight to USA with Germans,Italians and French on board and I think you would be positively orgasmic.....


4th Jun 2004, 11:34
Bealzebub, very funny...

Might one (only half-glibly) suggest the purchase of a GPS receiver if you're that desperate to know where you are? Failing that, a good map and compass would be a better than average way of passing the flight. It's not even as if DFW-ORD is particularly interesting: half's desert, half's fields.

I agree with the general sentiment. Mostly because when a captain speaks over the PA it's to announce an actionable requirement - seatbelts being the most obvious, major delays being a non-actionable one. Simply saying "we are here, look left, that's there blah blah blah" would annoy many more people that it would please.

Or you could just fly Delta, who have that fab moving map thingy.

4th Jun 2004, 20:01
I'm a regular transatlantic and internal USA flyer and I still like to know where I'm going. I've never thought of using a GPS receiver as I've always assumed it would be banned in-flight. Are they allowed then ?

I've also thought that, whilst trying to pass 9 or 10 hours in-flight, I could make contact with some Cabin Crew who may be PPRuNe'ers. Problem is how to identify PPRuNe friendly Cabin Crew ? Once you've broken the ice with a crew member I'm sure finding out the routing would be no problem.


Jordan D
5th Jun 2004, 10:28
Airsmiles - its my understanding that you couldn't use GPS onboard. Also don't get too friendly with the cabin crew, otherwise they might think you want to blow the plane up!


5th Jun 2004, 11:49
Rockhound has a valid point although I think he loses credibitlity with his manner on his second post. I'm in the business and I've been flying for hundreds of years (yes, I'm that old). I too have noticed that there is less info coming from the FD these days - especially on US majors. I have been on flights where no P/As were made at all from the FD. Sometimes on a very clear day you see some interesting landmarks. In the past the FD would bring this to the attention of the pax. I take on board what Bealzebub says, but I think he's a little too defensive. Sure strake has a point too and this for sure is the other extreme. I too would not want continous interruptions, but I think that significant route info is generally always welcome.

5th Jun 2004, 15:33
Significant route info would be almost mind numbingly tedious for most pax. Perhaps an announcement at the beginning of a flight: "Our flight today takes us over... then we turn east over... we'll pass about four miles south of central..." etc. On the fly commentary would be more than the pax - and the flight crew - could deal with.

And you can use GPS receivers onboard but not all airlines and always at the discretion of the crew. Do a forum search and you'll find plenty of discussion about it.

5th Jun 2004, 16:09
Must admit I want to tell the punters what we are flying over especially if its great day.

But the captains say not to bother them. If someone asks then i will make a PA to the plane.

Some captains are very pro it themselves and as my type the bat curtain is all that shields us from the punters you an see everyone look out the window.

On larger wide bodies you also have to remember that the infomation is totally usless to 70%+ of the passangers and may cause distruptions from none window seat holders trying to look out.

Pre sept 11th I travelled with delta to FL and they had the RT piped onto one of the entertainment channels. Great for a PPL student. Hostie said it was oneof the more popular selections.

The other thing is that the pilots might not have a clue what you can see out of the window. I havn't had a chart out on the FD for 6 months apart from to use as a glare shield. If some one says whats that city we might not know off the top of our heads.


5th Jun 2004, 17:33
Must admit I want to tell the punters what we are flying over especially if its great day.

But the captains say not to bother them.
Attention all Captains ! Sir !

Please do tell us the route and update us with where when are if the vis is good. Ever noticed how on a half-empty flight everyone always sits by the windows first ? There's a reason.

7th Jun 2004, 00:27
Nice to hear some voices from the ranks of the professionals in support of my position. My plea was largely for a little more of the personal touch from the flight deck, for some limited involvement of the pax in the conduct of the flight, not just by-the-book announcements and directives from the other side of the armoured door. Some of us pax don't just have a special interest in aviation, we actually enjoy flying, still get a charge from a takeoff, get a thrill from seeing the ground from 30000 feet up. We like to think that the guys at the controls also enjoy flying and want to share some of their enthusiasm for their job with the folks in the back.

7th Jun 2004, 02:21

I can see where your coming from, personally I find route info most interesting, but see it as a bonus if it si announced on a flight.

But do you think complaining will help ? The company have done precisely NOTHING wrong in not announcing route info, can't really see the flight crew being hauled over the coals for that one.

I get the impression from your post that you do not intend to use them again anyway, so even if they do change working practices in this area as a result of a complaint, you won't benefit anyway... ;)

7th Jun 2004, 04:07
Dear Rockhound

While I do not deny that you have a valid point , with air travel being so fascinating, let me present a contrary view point from a SLF under whose category I also belong.

I am from India and I fly reasonably frequently over here in the domestic routes mostly on business trips. Due to work requirements my most frequent route is MAA DEL which like DFW ORD has a lot of business traffic.

Now I find it very tedious when I hear " in a few moments from now you will be passing over Hyderabad on the left followed in 20 mins by Nagpur on the right only to find the lights (or shanty towns - depending on whether it is a day or night flight) of Bhopal catching your attention soon after follwed by Agra before landing in Delhi with monotonous regularity every time I fly the sector on the PA. In short for every first timer flying enthusiast on the route there will be on an average fifty frequent flyers and dont you think you should spare some thought for them as well.

Now also keeping in mind the very valid point that this should not kill an enthusaism of an avid aerial spooter, one suggestion which I can think of is something which is followed in these Double Deck sight seeing being busses doing the rounds in London and other cities (my wanderings so far have not taken me to Uncle Sam's territory).
May be a standard commentary of every small town you are flying overhead with attractions like population flora fauna et all can be
given non stop through a pre recorded taped commentary which may be linked with the aircraft's navigation systems. In case of deviation from the standard flight plan the same sight seeing bus approach

due to an unexpected deviation from the standard route this service is temporarily not available will come into play.

Now which airline is going to invest in all these new fangled old fashioned technology for a couple of enthusiasts in these era of cost cutting for survival is a different matter altogether.

8th Jun 2004, 12:43
I never dreamt reaction to my plaintive plea for a little more of the personal touch from behind the cockpit door would spill over to a second page.

I assure you I'm not all that upset and I certainly can't afford the luxury of selecting the airline I'll fly on (except that, if I have the choice, I'll always go for an Asian airline over a N American one).

I'm sure my letter to the CEO of the airline concerned will not impact the crew of the flight in question but it might, just might, make him think a bit about the interaction between crew and pax.

You (and other respondents on this thread) misunderstood me. Never did I mean to suggest that the pilots provide a running commentary on the progress of the flight. I agree with you completely that this would be tedious in the extreme. Also, route information, given out at the start of a flight, is only useful on a clear day. During the course of the flight, identification of the odd landmark or feature of unusual interest would be all I would ask for - if only as a means of keeping in touch with the pax, if you like. Do we really want to lose completely the uniqueness of air travel?

10th Jun 2004, 10:39
I'm with you, Rockhound - it is interesting to some of us just what we're flying over. Unfortunately for most passengers there is zero romance and the flight is just something to be endured.

Though I fly about once a month long-haul, usually to west-coast US, I never tire of looking out of the window, and am quite disappointed if I can't get a window seat. Particularly like the view over Greenland.

Usually fly Virgin, and have always found the pilots give a nice briefing of the route, and you can follow it on the screens.

Two related things that annoy me though:

- if I can't get a window seat, but people who have nabbed them just pull down the blind and never once look out!

- if the above happens, I'm in the middle, and the flight crew do come on the PA and announce some spectacular view:(

- Michael

10th Jun 2004, 11:52
MichaelJP59: if I can't get a window seat, but people who have nabbed them just pull down the blind and never once look outSorry, I understand your frustration but there are some of us who ask for and get window seats specifically because we want to sleep in relative comfort, and undisturbed.

10th Jun 2004, 13:27
How to maximise the chances for your window seat

Not by being the first in que for check in (I am not talking of Easy Ryan or its ilk but rather their upmarket bretheren).

For eg almost all the good seats ona TG flight BKK SIN would be gone even 36 hours back when a connecting pax from places like LAX checks in.

Instead ask your friendly travel agent who books your tickets to block the seats at the same time. Most travel agents use reservation systems which make it possible to see seat maps and pre reserve seats even upto an year in advance. And while some airlines like BA have restictions on pre blocing seats on the lowest fare classess, many airlines do not even have this. Also the seat map facilty helps you to block off adjacent seats when you are travelling with friends/family. (By the way for obvious reasons seats next to emergency exits are not allowed normally to be blocked this way!)

Surprising the number of travel agents who do not know this (or are not bothered to ask passengers for a seat preference when they do the ticketing!).