From the flight deck: “ATC is aware of our situation [i.e., that the pilots will need their milk, cookies and naps soon] and we have priority over other flights on the east coast.”
The crew’s “flight day” runs out in 50 minutes. Maybe the actual flight time doesn’t count as part of the “flight day,” since a computer actually flies the plane between takeoff and landing, otherwise it’s not clear how we could still fit in a flight to Chicago within the next 50 minutes.
Perhaps they are simply keeping us calm. Perhaps they have no intention of launching this aircraft and would take us back to the terminal right now if they could, but ground traffic is too backed up to allow them to do so any time soon. Rather than risk open revolt by announcing that we will be returning to the terminal in 50 minutes, they will wait until they can actually start rolling that way before doing so.
Just a theory.
Also, one curious detail. On the Flight Stats page for O’Hare, the following text appears:
Ground Stop – This airport has issued a Ground Stop affecting flights departing to it between Aug 19 03:11 PM UTC and Aug 19 05:00 PM UTC due to WEATHER / THUNDERSTORMS. Flights are being delayed an average of 116.8 minutes.
Ground Delay Program – This airport has issued a Ground Delay Program affecting flights arriving between Aug 19 08:00 AM and Aug 19 10:59 PM due to WEATHER / THUNDERSTORMS. Flights are being delayed an average of 137.7 minutes.
Delay – This airport is experiencing departure delays of 60 to 75 minutes due to Weather:Thunderstorms since Aug 19 10:11 AM.
Now, the flight crew has said that this flight is affected by the “ground stop.” Does the fact that the ground stop was issued for all flights departing between 11 p.m. last night (UTC, or Greenwich Mean Time, is currently four hours later than Eastern Daylight Time) and 1 p.m. this afternoon mean that the ground stop was issued before 11 p.m. last night, meaning, in turn, that United has known about it since then? I have heard that planes delayed on the tarmac do not count as “delayed,” in the absurd calculus by which airlines avoid having to behave like actual businesses. Did they pack us on the flight and get us out here, even though they knew we would be delayed or even canceled, to avoid being tagged for a delay?
Just another theory.
The pilot restarts the engine to power the air conditioning. A relief, but what implications does this have for our fuel?