Today Show Interview With CEO of Southwest On The Crappy State Of Air Travel


We all know that air travel is crappy and getting crappier.

The Today Show asks Gary “Sit Anywhere” Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines, to explain himself in the above clip.

We enjoyed the part where Kelly is asked to explain how every airline at every airport has thirty 8:00 flights when everyone knows it’s impossible for that many planes to take off at the same time.

The answer? Pay more attention to your arrival time than your departure time, because your wait to take-off is built in.

We also love how big-media types are not afraid to ask the “tough” questions when it comes to something that personally irks them, like air travel hassles. After all, first class arrives at the same time as coach.

The Today Show

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  1. chili_dog says:

    He’s 100% correct. There is “travel time” built into every trip, it takes longer to taxi out then in. Just listen, occasionally the pilot will say “todays flying time is 1 hour and 32 minutes” but the actual scheduled time is 1:55.

    I’m the 1st one to stand up and demand that the airlines get it right, but the real problem is that any travel is tedious and time consuming and air travel is no different. But I would never trade that 8 hours of actual time I give up to fly from Phoenix to New York considering the alternative is 5 days driving.

    Oh, and for the record, I love flying Southwest for anything under 4 hours. Once you learn the tricks it’s easy.

  2. dohtem says:

    @chili_dog said: … “takes longer to taxi out then in.”

    It’s than, not then.

  3. BK88 says:

    In the biz it is called BLOCK TIME, which is the time calculated from
    leaving the gate to arriving at the next gate. So in this formula
    everything is added. This is how it has always been done and will be
    done in the future every airline does it.

    BLOCK TIME=
    Avg taxi time from gate to runway+
    Avg enroute time plus average holds/delays+
    Avg taxi time from runway to gate.

    So if at JFK it takes 30 minutes to taxi to the runway at 8am, all 8am
    departures have 30 minutes added to there block time. If a plane going
    in to LaGuardia as to hold an average of 20 minutes, its added to the
    enroute time. There are also ground delay programs and speed control
    programs initiated by the FAA.

    All the modernization in the world one cure the fact that only one
    airplane can land on a runway per minute at any aiport. So if the
    airlines scheduled 80 arrivals to a one runway airport from 5-6pm, 20
    of them will be late.

    Bottom line, more runways are needed, and NIMBYs should be banned from flying until runways are built.

    (/rant)
    –BK

  4. Buran says:

    @BK88: Tell that to all the people who got eminent-domained out of their homes to build a runway here in St. Louis that we don’t have the traffic to support … while the terminal that sorely needs upgrades and hasn’t been touched in decades continues to molder and is a bad introduction to this city for out of town visitors.

    The runway project made sense when TWA was here. They built it anyway.

    Unbelievable and unacceptable.

  5. pestie says:

    @Buran: Hey, it’s St. Louis. What do you expect? They call it “flyover country” for a reason. Heh…

  6. BK88 says:

    @BURAN: Well it was a TWA Hub and did need the expanded capacity of
    another runway at the time it was developed, and built. The FAA and
    City of St Louis can’t make a company stay in business. And since it’s
    your local official’s, you should have led a drive to say upgrade the
    terminal right after adding the new runway as a condition of selling
    your house.

    Ft Lauderdale will have delays for a looooong time because of one air
    carrier runway, and the construction of an almost capable air carrier
    runway in 4 years. But you can thank the NIMBYs who don’t want improved
    service in the area.

    –BK

  7. humphrmi says:

    Nothing gets people more passionate around Chicago than talking runway expansion. Folks are getting eminent domained out of their homes, the city (of Chicago) is going into Bensenville and tearing down trees and greenways to make room for their construction equipment on adjacent land that they bought, cities that thought buying cheap land near the airport to build schools are complaining now because of the noise and spending much more money on soundproofing.

    We all want our peace and quiet. We all want our economic stability. You can’t on one hand expect the city to maintain it’s viability as a business and commerce hub and on the other hand say that its airport can’t be expanded to accommodate the travelers who bring that economic viability with them.

    Airport capacity vs. homeowner rights. Guns vs. Butter. You choose.

  8. Chese says:

    BK88 has it right. Airlines simply over scheduled flights into airports that cannot handle the traffic even under the best conditions. Add a big storm to the mix and you have a mess. Even without the NIMBYs building additional runways is a major project that takes many years. The simplest solution I think is to reduce the regional traffic at congested airports or make them slot controlled.

  9. Havok154 says:

    @humphrmi:
    Definitely butter, preferably on a bagel.

  10. Rusted says:

    I’ll fly to the otherside of the continent, but other then that, just not worth it. Even with peak oil and what not, cheaper to drive then take air, or train, or even “ride the dog” from here for short trips.

  11. Kbomb says:

    Unless its cross-country, I’m avoiding flying. I go from Chicago to Minnesota very often. Its an 7 hour drive to the twin-cities, another 4+ to my in-laws. Thats a long day of driving, BUT, I make no exageration when I say that more than a few times I’ve spent 12+ hours fighting traffic to the airport, waiting in ticket lines, security lines, waiting for delayed flights to arrive, waiting on the runway to depart, waiting at my destination to arrive at the terminal, waiting for my bags at baggage claim, and waiting for my ride to come pick me up at the airport.

    I prefer having the freedom to leave when I want, stop and eat good food where I want, and all without sitting next to some smelly annoying stanger. I’ll take that over flying for sure.

  12. iMike says:

    Southwest is actually one of the better airlines when it comes to customer satisfaction, etc. Put Doug Parker on the hot seat and see how he does.

  13. b612markt says:

    @iMike: I’d say the best, not just one of the better airlines.