Department Of Transportation To Examine Deceptive Airline Schedules

The Department of Transportation is accusing eight airlines of publishing unrealistic schedules. At issue is whether airlines are properly disclosing on-time performance statistics as required.

“We want to understand … how it is possible that a flight could be late 70 or 80 percent of the time and actually not disclose that inadequate rate to the customer,” said Andrew Steinberg, assistant secretary of transportation for aviation and international affairs.

If airlines do not demonstrate improvements within the year, Congress has threatened to unleash a barrel of monkeys new rules. The Department can start by having a friendly chat with U.S. Airways, operator of Flight 154 from Philadelphia to San Francisco, which arrived late 100% of the time in February. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Transportation department to probe airline delays [Dallas Morning News]
(Photo: jenkardux)

Comments

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  1. I wonder if too-short connection times have anything to do with the dismal performance?

  2. timmus says:

    Damn, that 0% ontime record beats the LA-Seattle Amtrak train, which was late 98% of the time.

  3. superlayne says:

    Maybe instead of times planes should just leave on dates. That would be a little more realistic.

  4. lemur says:

    I think the DoT should also look into Greyhound’s advertisements and Amtrak’s. Greyhound’s Charlottesville-DC route is late 90% of the time. (Yep, that’s an estimate based on my own experience on that route.) It seems to me that if the bus can’t make the advertised time most of the time then the advertisement is just plain deceptive and should be treated as such by the DoT, the FTC or whomever should enforce the law against deceptive advertisements in this case.

  5. msblowupdoll says:

    Even the on-time figure is woefully off — airlines make horrendously delayed flights look like they are on-time by padding the arrival time. For example, morning flights between NYC and Chicago are listed at 2 hours, during peak afternoon/evening times they’re all 3 hours. JetBlue made heavy use of this tactic after the Passengers’ Bill of Rights was instituted.

  6. MentalDisconnect says:

    Wow…. every plane I have taken the past 9 months has been delayed by something… sometimes delays getting in, and sometimes it’ll be on time so we’ll board fine but it’ll sit for an hour while paperwork gets taken care of/repairs are made/extra luggage is loaded/ the plane gets de-iced/who knows. I guess because they board us on time they might consider it “on time”. Everyone knows how much people love sitting in a plane, so they try to extend that joy by an hour or so. Seems like either horrible planning or they’re just being sadistic…

  7. How fitting. When you ask for government handouts and you dont live up to expectations you are suddenly held accountable for your actions.

  8. legotech says:

    @MentalDisconnect: As long as they push back from the gate its considered an ‘on time’ departure. On time arrival is wheels down, not into the gate…something seems a little backwards there…on time departure should be wheels up time and on time arrival should be deplaning time.

    Reg

  9. cabinaero says:

    @legotech: There’s a reason for that. An airline is generally responsible for keeping their push time. All sorts of delays that come into play after push — weather, air traffic control, etc. — are beyond the airline’s control and, as such, don’t impact their on-time ratings.

    I’ve sat in the penalty box at O’Hare for over an hour because of air traffic control delays; it sucks but it’s not the airline’s fault.

  10. suckonthat says:

    Does anyone know where one could look up such data?

  11. cabinaero says:
  12. mathew says:

    If a flight is late 70%+ of the time, surely that means the published flight time is a work of complete fiction?

    There ought to be some kind of law that if the flight is late more than 50% of the time, the airline is legally required to adjust the schedule to match reality…

  13. @mathew: Why? That improves the airline’s on-time performance simply by changing the departure times. That makes the airlines look like they’re doing the job simply by moving the goalposts. Why not solve the problem by examining what’s causing the delays instead?

  14. huadpe says:

    @eastvillageidiot: Well, no. If they have to meet 50% on all the flights, you very quickly realize you have to change ALL the departure times. And one or two don’t make the cut since you DID have them too closely packed. And this accomplishes the goal.

    Then again, municipal governments and/or private investors could decide to invest in new airports/terminals to solve the problem…but governments are cheap and lazy, and investors are shortsighted and reasonably afraid of the cheap and lazy government seizing their asset once its built, either directly or through amazingly onerous and silly regulations (TSA must run the building in all aspects) and whatnot.

  15. RangerRick says:

    If airlines do not demonstrate improvements within the year, Congress has threatened to unleash a barrel of monkeys new rules. The Department can start by having a friendly chat with U.S. Airways, operator of Flight 154 from Philadelphia to San Francisco, which arrived late 100% of the time in February.
    - CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

    Carey – Great name! But have you considered shortening it to Carey Greenberg-er?
    Alternate spellings: Carey-Green-Berger, Carey Green-Berg-Er

    Just a thought.

  16. KifoFox says:

    Last night, I took a US Airways flight from Las Vegas to Oakland. Before the flight, I was sitting around, reading a magazine…when I casually glanced up at the sign above the gate desk. To my shock, the sign said that the plane was in its final boarding. A moment later, a man ran into the waiting area trying to catch the flight. A little after that, to my utter confusion, the sign changed to “Departed.” Interestingly enough, it was time for the plane to leave….the sign knew that, but all of the passengers were still waiting and the plane hadn’t gone anywhere.

    This leads me to believe that they just put everything on the clock and don’t input any actual flight information for the schedules.

    On a side note, the person sitting next to me waited over 6 hours for her US Airways flight because the plane had to wait for the gate to be free. Luckily, it was a small plane, so the passengers who were on the plane earlier got to get off without waiting the full 6 hours.

    US Airways flights better be pretty discounted for me to consider flying with them again.