Last Night Winds Were So Bad A United Flight Had To Divert – Twice

On Wednesday evening passengers on board United Airlines flight 2325 from Newark to Orange County, California were relieved to take off after three and a half hour delay. Finally on their way at 10 minutes past 8 o’clock in the evening, they had a much longer journey in store than they’d anticipated.

The plane had to make a stop at Denver airport to refuel. It made to gate B23 there at 10:48 p.m. and was one the ground for an hour and five minutes.

The Boeing 737 then took off for Los Angeles instead of Orange County, arriving at 2:18 a.m.

Final operations to Orange County airport were cancelled and passengers were bused the final 40 miles to their destination.

Orange County’s John Wayne airport does not permitted arrivals of commercial aircraft between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. (and 8:00 a.m. on Sundays). So the flight’s delay and diversion meant that it couldn’t reach its destination in time. (Orange County limits are grandfathered, the FAA wouldn’t allow their rules going forward, but at least more passenger traffic may be allowed starting in 2026.)

Normally diversions for fuel happen far more frequently during winter with Airbus narrowbody aircraft (without new engines and long range capability), rather than Boeing 737s. But strong enough headwinds can make a flight long enough that it becomes necessary. Add on an airport’s operating restrictions and an inconvenience for passengers can truly compound as it did in this case.

In my view arrival bans ought to be waived for irregular operations. And in fact airlines can apply to the airport’s director to authorize aircraft movements outside of specified hours “for an emergency, mechanical, air traffic control or weather delay, which is substantially beyond the control of the air carrier” however express approval in advance is required – rather than setting criteria for automatic approvals. Violating the airport’s noise ordinance is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and a $1000 fine.

Sunday’s United Airlines 2325 from Newark to Orange County had to divert as well – that time to Phoenix – but since the original departure hadn’t been delayed they were able to gas up and make it to John Wayne airport with an hour to spare before its destination turned into a pumpkin for the night.

(HT: @ssegraves)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. curfew for takeoffs over residential Newport Beach I understand the rationale, but I dont get not allowing landings that come in from the north over a mostly industrial area

  2. Questions:

    Semi-serious question #1
    What is the mask protocol on the bus?

    Question #2
    Were passengers allowed to not take bus if it helped them?
    Lets say someone lived closer to LAX than SNA. Just get off there and get the uber
    instead of the non-value added bus ride to SNA

    Question #3
    Did Bags make it from LAX onto bus and then down to John Wayne?

  3. I flew JFK-SFO this week and it took a bit over 7 hours due to winds. Luckily no fuel stops were needed.

  4. I’m sure United was happy to send their airport personnel home instead of standing around for 4 hours on overtime. The bus was probably cheaper.

  5. There is a reason why Delta continues to operate 757s on some of most challenging transcon flights in the winter -such as Boston to California.

    As for operating into curfew airports, the solution is simply not to schedule flights with such a narrow margin which is what JetBlue did at Long Beach. Granted a 3 1/2 hour delay at the origin will mess up just about any schedule but people who live near airports on the west coast should not have to pay for bad weather on the other side of the country and the delayed flights that go with them.
    btw, Alaska 514 on the 28th arrived 5 minutes after the curfew. I doubt if they will get fined so there is a little wiggle room, very likely if the flight has been cleared to land before 11.

  6. Gary, I strongly disagree with your POV. SNA and LGB have curfews that are resolutely protected by their neighbors who have agreed to live in peace with the airports as long as the curfews are complied with.
    In SoCal fortunately LAX exists to pick up the pieces when operational issues lead to the type of delay you depicted here, so abrogating these airports’ coexistence would be a fool’s errand.

  7. But think of the flights coming east if you are lucky enough. LAX-JFK in 3.5 hours. Albeit bumpy as hell.

  8. Think about the staffing for having to deal with irregular operations. What ground staff would be available to park and unload? What gate agent would be there to operate the bridge and open the door? Those folks would have to leave their homes at a moments notice. Better to land at a 24/7 airport.

  9. @fred farkle
    Q2. Yes passengers can skip the bus to SNA.
    Q3. Bags are claimed @ LAX, and if necessary a file will be taken by the SNA employees.

    @John H
    There would be someone to meet the bus either from that night shift, or by early morning staff.

    Former employee that worked at both LAX & SNA.

  10. I strongly disagree with David at LAX.

    David, quit using words like “abrogate.” [redacted -gl] writing a comment on an internet travel blog. There are no Pulitzers for this venue of expression. [redacted -gl]

    Onto the substance of your comment. I do not give a damn that airport neighbors hate noise. Don’t live next to the friggin’ airport then! Or use earplugs or other mitigation techniques. Airports serve a very critical purpose in the public infrastructure, while a curmudgeon who lives near an airport is better off dead than alive, to be quite frank, for the sake of society. Curmudgeons don’t contribute anything valuable to the world. They just take up space and then complain when other, more valuable human beings, dare do the same.

    Allowing IRROPS to bypass the 11pm landing curfew just makes sense.

  11. @Austinite – your response represents what is so wrong with interrelations these days in our country: Your intense disregard and dismissal of other people’s situations, vocabulary and zip codes. Airports like SNA predate most of its neighbors. Current noise abatement agreements including hours of operation should not be ABROGATED simply because it displeases someone like you who showcases no concern for what others have negotiated to achieve a peaceful coexistence with their local airport.

    @GaryLeff – why did you approve in review a comment such as the one from @Austinite above that resorted to name calling and slander of another poster here on this blog?

  12. @Austinite, @David and @GaryLeff

    There are many reasons that the smaller regional Los Angeles Airports close. LAX just isn’t that far away, some of which are discussed above. There are exceptions as well, Organ transplants, military and medical emergencies land after hours. The people who buy houses in the airport vicinity based on current law and regulations are entitled to rely on the laws and regulations.
    @Austinite – your wishing someone who disagrees with you to be dead says a hell of a lot more about you then @David as does your complaint about @David’s use of the word abrogate. As a lawyer, the word is not uncommon and shows your insecurities more than @David’s. @Garyleff and @Austinite – disagree with @David all you want but don’t use hateful speech (@Austinite) or permit hateful speech (@Garyleff) to the extent feasible.

  13. David, SNA predating its neighbors is exactly why the neighbors have no say.
    Marty, a laywer who dangles participles and misspells “than” is probably not on track to make partner at Cravath.

  14. As a physician, I agree with @Austinite’s prescription.

    @Marty, I’m not sure what weight you believe your occupation supplies here… I’m sure the readers could care less that I’m a doctor and that you’re a lawyer.

  15. Amen @courtney so true!!! I was sick of @Marty comment he needs to remember free speech..

  16. @David at LAX – most comments do not go into a queue for review before publishing, and I am not online 100% of the time in the evening or overnight

  17. @David at LAX and @Austinite, LAX also makes accommodations for its neighbors and all flights after 12am must take off and land over the ocean, something that both SNA and LGB physically cannot do. SNA also has extremely wealthy Newport Beach which it must fly over which contributes to its noise issues.

  18. @Augustine (same person as Courtney) thank you for continuing the personal attacks. It reflects on your character, not mine.

  19. So exactly who would be on the ground at 230am to keep the airport open for that flight to land? Air traffic control, baggage handlers, ground crew, jet bridge operator, tsa etc. sorry but a few buses or 100 Uber credits are way more practical for the people that really had to get to Orange County.

  20. These aren’t”diversions”. A diversion is an unplanned event. That flight was scheduled to refuel in DEN before it ever left EWR. Additionally, the flight departed DEN with a planned landing in LAX – due to the curfew in SNA. This flight never diverted once, let alone twice.

  21. Worked in aviation 40 years and when an airport expands or a new is constructed people move in close to it then whine about noise. It always happens. Developers should not allowed to build in these areas. But money motivates them.

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