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Delay due to Operational Reasons

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Delay due to Operational Reasons

Old 16th Dec 2021, 09:00
  #41 (permalink)  
 
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At MAN in a week of snow our Easyjet flight to Malta was cancelled due to "adverse weather" and as such not eligible for EU compo.

Luckily I had a screenshot of the departure board showing two other flight leaving at the same to Malta get away quite successfully! And yes I got the compo before it got to Court.
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Old 16th Dec 2021, 13:31
  #42 (permalink)  
 
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You were lucky as my son was flying to Istanbul from LHR with his wife and 4 year old on the mid day service for a long weekend. There were strong winds at Gatwick with diversions but just as they were about to board BA decided they would use the aircraft and crew for another service and cancelled it. They eventually put them on an evening flight but refused to sit them together; as for compensation they claimed it was weather related which it wasn’t.
In my early days as a second officer we were encouraged to talk to the pax on long short haul flights when P3. Then the IRA started putting bombs on our aircraft which of course you didn’t tell the pax why you were depressurising and diving back into london. They obviously smelt a rat when we were parked up by the sewage works, surrounded with flashing lights and no one would push a set of air stairs up to the aircraft for half an hour. Of course we were never told the truth although one of the skippers had the chief bomb disposal officer from Northern Ireland in the cockpit who did. The files on a specific incident have been reclassified from 40 years out of the public domain to something probably beyond my life expectancy. There were incidents with cabin crew bars including with my then fiancé of 21 who got of the full aircraft as the bar seal numbers did not correspond with those which had been security checked. The skipper went ballistic but after she had been assaulted by one I had told her don’t take the Sh%t. It is well known that the services had a very high up mole in the IRA which probably saved many lives.
My final Airline was totally different; we checked in early and had full access to the security files; After a brief check of our documentation we met the cabin crew and briefed them before finishing our flight planning then it was off to the aircraft as a whole crew. I would go up to the gate and introduce myself, talk to a few pax, cockpit checks then greet the pax boarding. PA was in three languages on all flights. If there was a problem generally the truth or close to the truth was revealed.
After engine shut down it was full uniform including titfer in the cockpit door saying goodbye..company policy.
After premature retirement and 9/11 I witnessed some good and bad stuff;
Our Irish airline; open door with early boarding in Marseilles..everyone welcome, good chat and a great landing followed by captain saying Ta. Another flight incredibly well turned out captain both greeting and saying Ta after another greaser. And some scruffy bloke with a miserable face and untrimmed beard who did not say a word at anytime in spite of a very long delay. The landing was another demonstration of incompetence.
My old employer had another lot of poor show which started with an incompetent gate staff who queued passengers across the escalator and ignored the hazard; announced a substantial delay then decided to get us on board the 747 (which had paint pealing off the red tail cone) asap. Then some fool announced “this is your senior first officer speaking..blah blah blah ..and I’ve just discovered a large dent in the side of the fuselage and we are waiting for an engineer to inspect it”. Who knows what a SFO is? We all know he is speaking. And the conclusion that one of the employees has smashed into the side of the aircraft and is stupid enough not to report it speaks volumes for the safety culture. ‘Twas the same in my day. Needless to say we went before anyone could have possibly examined the inside of the structure and no doubt the skipper [email protected] the SFO as he said no more.
The return flight wasn’t much better with one coach to unload a 777 and uncovered air stairs in drizzle…no flight crew to be seen.
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Old 16th Dec 2021, 16:26
  #43 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Hotel Tango;[url=tel:11156256
11156256[/url]] Ah yes, I remember a time when ATC delays were common enough that they became the standard and convenient excuse for delays whatever the real reason was. One crew got caught out when I was on board. Quick call to my mates at Flow who confirmed (as I had suspected) that the flight I was on was not subject to any restrictions! I had a friendly chat to the FD afterwards and they admitted that it was a convenient way of taking pressure off the company for tech or operational issues. Pax just muttered "ATC again"
As NATS employees we had the option to file a report of such instances on returning back to base. Some of us used to show our business cards on similarly having friendly chats with the CC. I never had cause to do so
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Old 16th Dec 2021, 17:17
  #44 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by davidjohnson6 View Post
Yes, we all know and love/hate the "operational reasons" excuse for anything
Sometimes, it's cover for "I do not know" while other times it means "I do not want to tell you"
Has anybody found an effective way of cajoling info out of gate staff to get some idea as to what is the true cause of a delay ?
Hi all

Could I gently nudge this thread back towards my original question, namely how pax can get better info when something goes wrong besides the cliché of "operational reasons" ?
Many of you have your own war stories, but some people have less time than others to read everything, and maybe best if everyone tries to stick to the subject of the thread ? On a radio, everyone likes a strong signal:noise ratio.
It's certainly possible to have a general war-story discussion... but maybe best to have its own separate thread

Last edited by davidjohnson6; 16th Dec 2021 at 17:29.
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Old 16th Dec 2021, 17:31
  #45 (permalink)  
 
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Well there have been several posts (mine included) about using FR24 to give you a sporting chance of finding out whether there actually is an aircraft in a position to operate your flight.

If there isn't, then that tells you all you need to know.

If there is an aircraft sitting at your gate, then a delay is more than likely either a crewing issue or a technical problem. If you can see the activity (if any) around the aircraft, then that's a good clue that they are trying to fix something.

Sorry if you haven't found those posts helpful.
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Old 16th Dec 2021, 18:35
  #46 (permalink)  
 
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Basically you can’t unless you know someone in dispatch....the dispatchers are the conduit for all of the information. You can get the odd bits like when we were stuck in Charleroi with heavy snow in Dublin and one of the pax had a mate sitting on the outbound aircraft waiting for de ice..
It helped and contrary to what I expected on the second day the airport staff at Charleroi kept the airport open until half an hour after official closing so that we wouldn’t have a second night in the local hotel. Ryanair were fantastic and we didn’t have to run the gauntlet again of two woman with large skirts robbing some of the passengers whilst we were waiting for room allocation.
There are times when the crew are some of the last to be informed and I learnt a long time ago that whatever I did as a passenger was going to have the square root of eff all effect so sit back, order another drink and fantasise about the crumpet.
PS we went over duty on a ZRH to BOM as someone decided that they wouldn’t allocate loading staff; so we sat at the gate with connecting passengers who hadn’t had anything to eat for seven hours telling them a lot of rubbish which is what we were being fed. Eventually I told dispatch we would need another co pilot unless we went as we were going over legal duty time out of home base. So they gave us an ETD which they failed to meet again. Conscious that pax take priority we illegally operated. Never heard anything back but it wasn’t the only time.
Had it before in my first outfit.
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Old 16th Dec 2021, 20:01
  #47 (permalink)  
 
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Your attention please…

…is there anybody in the waiting area that may have a spare Electronic Fuel Flow sensor for a Trent?
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Old 17th Dec 2021, 11:05
  #48 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by davidjohnson6 View Post
Hi all

Could I gently nudge this thread back towards my original question, namely how pax can get better info when something goes wrong besides the cliché of "operational reasons" ?
Many of you have your own war stories, but some people have less time than others to read everything, and maybe best if everyone tries to stick to the subject of the thread ? On a radio, everyone likes a strong signal:noise ratio.
It's certainly possible to have a general war-story discussion... but maybe best to have its own separate thread
I have explained in a previous post why I gave up very early on trying to explain the 'real' reasons for delays to pax. It simply takes you into an endless series of questions, which invariably leads to a dispute and this is why so little information is disseminated to pax. Many of them suddenly turn into operations gurus who 'know' far more than you about how airline operations work. Anyone who has ever worked in ops/dispatch will testify to this. As I posted earlier, there can be 100 reasons for a flight delay. The one the dispatcher doesn't want to see is number 31, because this invariably leads - at best - to a meeting without coffee with the ops manager. Dispatchers are busy people and there is rarely time to interact with passengers. There's always another flight waiting to be dispatched. Try working in an ops room when there are several delayed flights due to ATC, weather, etc., or worse still, diversions. Dealing with the phones, the radio and monitoring the screens for activity, is like, as one of my former colleagues put it, 'Being a one-armed paperhanger.'

With regard to FR 24 as a source of reliable information, my experience is less than stellar. In one airport where I worked, we had FR 24 on a large screen in the ops room, basically in order to know in what sequence the flights were arriving. On several occasions, the registrations of the aircraft turned out to be different from those on the screen. Invariably, the departure signal had posted the correct registration and flight number, but it did lead to confusion, not something you need when the LCCs have minimum turnaround times. The reasons for this were never determined afaik, despite discussions with the flight deck and airline ops. When I occasionally dip into FR 24 nowadays, I still see errors in the information provided, so, on a personal level at least, I am not convinced that it is a totally reliable source of information.
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Old 17th Dec 2021, 13:48
  #49 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by barry lloyd View Post
In one airport where I worked, we had FR 24 on a large screen in the ops room, basically in order to know in what sequence the flights were arriving. On several occasions, the registrations of the aircraft turned out to be different from those on the screen. Invariably, the departure signal had posted the correct registration and flight number, but it did lead to confusion, not something you need when the LCCs have minimum turnaround times.
As you're no doubt aware, commercial aircraft rarely transmit their registrations via Mode S or ADS-B, so sources such as FR24 rely on deducing the identity of the aircraft on the screen from their transmitted ICAO 24-bit address using proprietary and/or public domain tie-up databases.

On the handful of occasions that I've seen FR24 or other flight trackers display an incorrect identity, it has mostly been due to the aircraft in question transmitting the wrong 24-bit address due to either a technical fault or being wrongly configured.

It's happened to me maybe half a dozen times over the last 10 years or so - not a bad average!
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Old 18th Dec 2021, 07:17
  #50 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by davidjohnson6 View Post
Hi all

Could I gently nudge this thread back towards my original question, namely how pax can get better info when something goes wrong besides the cliché of "operational reasons" ?
Many of you have your own war stories, but some people have less time than others to read everything, and maybe best if everyone tries to stick to the subject of the thread ? On a radio, everyone likes a strong signal:noise ratio.
It's certainly possible to have a general war-story discussion... but maybe best to have its own separate thread
The war stories were rolled out to hopefully illustrate that the gate staff often know no more than the passengers and also why for most passenger giving fully accurate “better” information using technical terms is often completely pointless and in some circumstances actually unhelpful.

So to help your bid to get this back on thread in the case of the flight control problem I rambled on about upthread can I ask you do you really think the average passenger would have any better informed/better placed if I had simply made a PA saying “we are not departing on schedule because of a FLT CTRL SYS status message”?

If you chased an airline post a cancelled flight for “better” info, for whatever reason, and got told the reason was a Fuel Spar Valve message on start up again, would that actually leave you any better informed?

What level of information are you actually asking for or expecting?

Last edited by wiggy; 18th Dec 2021 at 11:05.
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Old 18th Dec 2021, 08:42
  #51 (permalink)  
 
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Smile

Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
As you're no doubt aware, commercial aircraft rarely transmit their registrations via Mode S or ADS-B, so sources such as FR24 rely on deducing the identity of the aircraft on the screen from their transmitted ICAO 24-bit address using proprietary and/or public domain tie-up databases.

On the handful of occasions that I've seen FR24 or other flight trackers display an incorrect identity, it has mostly been due to the aircraft in question transmitting the wrong 24-bit address due to either a technical fault or being wrongly configured.

It's happened to me maybe half a dozen times over the last 10 years or so - not a bad average!
Fair comment Dave, but I have also seen wrong origin/destination information attached to a particular flight as well - maybe for the same reasons, (I am not referring to N/A of course). I can quote delay codes to you ad infinitum, but I know naff all about how the FR24 system works!
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Old 18th Dec 2021, 14:57
  #52 (permalink)  
 
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I bet it is also to do with compensation. A bland 'operational reasons' without implicating anyone at that stage - a bit like not admitting blame after a road traffic accident. Had a captain in the US tell us over the PA that it was due to crew duty limitations but by the time we got to the desk it had become weather and not their fault.
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Old 18th Dec 2021, 17:11
  #53 (permalink)  
 
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Back in 1979 we were told that a 40 minute delay was due the a p.a. jingle not working, a 'no go' item - it seemed bizarre at the time but I presume that it could be vital in an emergency. I wouldn't have known what an MEL was at the time.

Later in 1990 when the captain told me, face to face, that the technical delay was a sheared drive shaft knocking out a hydraulic system I had absolutely no trouble being delayed two hours.

I suspect that Ppruners are by nature a rather curious lot when it comes to learning about operational delays.

Last edited by Peter47; 25th Dec 2021 at 18:07.
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Old 18th Dec 2021, 17:47
  #54 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by barry lloyd View Post
Fair comment Dave, but I have also seen wrong origin/destination information attached to a particular flight as well - maybe for the same reasons
That's exactly correct. As with the aircraft registration, the route origin and destination aren't transmitted either via Mode S/ADS-B. So the flight trackers maintain databases that attempt to tie up Flight IDs with the route flown.

As we know, flight numbers change over time, plus the flight trackers attempt to tie up not only scheduled flights, but also ad hoc flight numbers (maintenance, positioning flights, etc) which can vary from day to day. Add the extra complication of alphanumeric callsigns designed to avoid callsign confusion for ATC, and it's no surprise that wrong routes are shown from time to time.
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Old 18th Dec 2021, 22:01
  #55 (permalink)  
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What am I hoping for from airline/handling staff when things go wrong ?
An explanation that is not
a) patronisingly insulting such as "operational reasons because you are all too stupid to understand what an airplane is"
b) some (often) fake excuse (the standard "it was ATC's fault, nothing to do with us") and
c) doesn't involve somebody wallowing in jargon so as to utterly obfuscate the true picture

Two medical doctors talking amongst themselves immediately delve into technical jargon... but if (heaven forbid) you need to see a hospital consultant they are usually very happy to explain your test results and what they mean... and will often achieve this in a few minutes. Science journalists manage a similiar task in newspapers every day

Very few on here are epidemiologists... but those in the UK have all seen Chris Whitty's (or chief epidemiologist in your own country, eg Antony Fauci) slides and, despite the depressing message, many of the general public feel they understand the overall picture and the medics have respect from much of the public

Yes, a 737 is a complicated machine... but there are enough passengers on an average flight who have a decent brain and can follow sentences of more than 10 multi-syllable words. At least try to explain the issue - some pax will understand (and explain to pax travelling with them)... and pilots will be accorded due respect.

Last edited by davidjohnson6; 18th Dec 2021 at 22:13.
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Old 19th Dec 2021, 10:12
  #56 (permalink)  

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Well, I explained to our 4 pax that we weren't going anywhere because the toilet servicing truck had reversed into the cowl creating an air gap too big to be MEL'd.
I would never attempt to do that with 180 people. I would then spend the next 2-3 hours explaining every minute detail to every passenger when I should be doing more operationally important stuff.

David, your example of doctors explaining your test results is it's pretty much one to one, not one to 180 different people with different levels of English and technical knowledge.
I have seen a passenger demand to get off a BA B777 because of a technical delay. He became convinced the aircraft was unsafe and even when the captain explained to him individually what was going on, he insisted on getting off. Creating another 45 minute delay.

Another example.
We had a an Aux Hyd pump intermittent failure on start up. I told the pax on board that we have a minor technical issue that we need to resolve before departure.
As we hadn't moved, it comes under the MEL. There's no MEL relief. We also checked the QRH to see if there was any procedures or what the issue is inflight.
We tried a full shut down and restart. That managed to make it work. In the mean time, we'd already contacted the company about a recovery flight and to get them ready to get an engineer over or start planning a recovery.
These pax needed to be at a meeting, the sooner we could resolve the issue, the better for them. If I had had to explain the detail of the fault, the significance of the fault, the likelihood of the fault having any operational impact but although, highly unlikely we'd need said system, it is important enough that it is a no-go. While their English was excellent, I doubt I could have explained it adequately without costing a lot of time.

After landing, the pump failed completely. Although, it wasn't the pump. It was the circuit board that controls the pump that failed. The aircraft was now AOG and we went to the hotel.

Experience has shown me that while it's extremely important to not lie or be dismissive of pax concerns, attempting to explain a technical issue just leads to one question and then another and another.

Chris Whitty et al, have spent time rehearsing their message and it's been through a lawyer or two. They're rarely answering ad hoc questions. Unfortunately, even a reasonable answer/attempt at explaining stuff still has the conspiracy theorists/covid antivaxxers disbelieving his message. Imagine that response on an aeroplane? As I have witnessed, those who chose not to believe the message from the captain will demand to get off the aircraft.
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Old 19th Dec 2021, 11:36
  #57 (permalink)  
 
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I was once waiting for a flight, many years ago. I was an interested spotter and knew all the technical jargon because I'd obviously read some books. 😁 (Joke before anyone shoots me down) . A business man wasn't happy demanding he speak with someone in authority. I knew something was happening because the crew were coming off said aircraft. Said business man saw the hat and stripes on one of the staff and promptly engaged in a rant regarding the delay.
The captain listened intently as the business man continued to spout rubbish. Then when he ran out of steam, the captain moved closer to the man and in a quiet voice said, "Sir, I'll put the problem into words you'll understand. It's f£#ked!"
Exit one red faced business man.
Bet that doesn't happen nowadays. 🤣
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Old 19th Dec 2021, 12:17
  #58 (permalink)  
 
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I remember an occasion when we had started the take-off roll and had to abort from only about 80kts. Back on stand the engineers tried to fix it (I forget now what the problem was), when they had fixed it, we tried again with the same result. A reporter who was on board demanded to see the captain, so he was ushered up stairs whereupon he shoved a microphone under my nose saying we were totally unsafe and demanding an explanation. I said I would try to explain but only if he switched the recorder off and put it well out of reach (I didn't want him surreptitiously switching it back on again) and I would try to explain all the safety precautions involved.

He wouldn't except any of it and just kept on ranting. Finally, after quite some time, I said to him the more time I spend with you rather than trying to help resolve the problem the longer we may be delayed and that is not what everyone else wants. When this had no effect I told him he had a very simple decision to make. "Either you can shut up and return to your seat or you can f**k off and leave the aircraft, I don't mind which you do."

I did wonder what kind of letter he might write to the airline but he slunk off back to his seat and I never heard anything more about it
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Old 19th Dec 2021, 13:04
  #59 (permalink)  
 
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Red snail;
Reminds me of a weird snag taxying out on the DC10 to somewhere a long way away when I selected take off slats/flaps and I got an amber caution even though they were correctly extended. I recycled but whilst it extinguished it came back on. The flight engineer was a Pilot doing a short stint before we got our MD11s whilst the regular genii where being trained up as pilots which meant two things..their technical knowledge wasn’t as comprehensive and they were junior officers in the military against the captain who was a colonel or something similar.
The captain was one of those go minded as they briefed and after trying different tacks I ended up stating I would stand on the brakes if he tried to go.
We returned twice to the gate and after a good couple of hours of engineers swarming over the aircraft they discovered a connection on the rear of the circuit breaker which had been arcing and could have had nasty consequences. I learnt a lesson a long time ago after my best mate died because of a bully.
Had another one in Moscow where one engine wouldn’t rotate, procedure start another, remove starter, fix blanking plate start original engine and go which needed a refuelling as well. First go on rickety stairs which sleet falling failed ..thought we had mixed up starter motors..so after three goes we went to the hotel until another aircraft was flown out with several starter motors and the bit that hadn’t been fitted when the engine had been overhauled the day before.
yes off the thread and old [email protected] tales..but there are often unknowns and there was a reason that dispatchers had conspicuous red caps.
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Old 19th Dec 2021, 19:14
  #60 (permalink)  
 
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In early 2000's booked on Airtours package to Maldives from Gatwick via Bahrain on B767-300. I believe both Airtours and Monarch at the time based crews in Bahrain and changed them for the onward return flights to Goa, Maldives and Trivandrum. While at check-in area an announcement was made for all premium booked pax to report to a certain desk number. Another announcement made stating there would be no in-flight entertainment and that the flight would now go to Dubai with the onward leg on an Emirates B777 but not giving the specific reason. I contacted some ex work colleagues at Gatwick who confirmed the B767 allocated for the flight had been damaged by ground equipment earlier in the day and that Airtours were now using a DC10-30 for the flight (G-BYDA) which was positioning in from Manchester. With no DC10 crew at Bahrain they elected Dubai and after minimum crew rest the same crew doing the return. The returning pax that day must have been very confused.and probably quite delayed.

The next year I did the same trip with Airtours but this time non-stop on the same DC10 and about 9.5 hours flight time. The return flight can take up to 11 hours due headwinds and once on board the captain announced they were delaying departure as the temperature needed to drop slightly enabling the aircraft performance to reach Gatwick without a fuel stop. Once we taxied out I warned my partner to expect a very long take-off roll. It didn't disappoint ! About 2 hours out from Gatwick the captain announced they didn't need a fuel stop. After landing we were allocated a stand on the South Terminal Pier 2 and when reaching it the aircraft stopped on the taxiway for 10-15 mins with engines running then captain announced the allocated stand was blocked by a broken down vehicle so they were negotiating another. After another 20 mins or so the captain announced they were shutting down the engines and the aircraft would be towed to another stand on Pier 3 (satellite). We eventually parked about 1 hour after landing.
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