Fewer Delays On The Horizon

Several airlines are taking small steps to reduce the infuriating delays that have plagued carriers during their no-holds-barred fight to remain profitable. Airlines are still cramming their planes full of paying consumers, but they are hoping that building more ground time into schedules and changing the way flights are diverted will alleviate some complaints.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Tempe-based US Airways decided in July to extend its operating day by 30 minutes, spreading flights out more and making four more aircraft available as spares.

The airline added one additional plane to its East Coast shuttle operation, flying the same number of flights with more jets so delays don’t affect the schedule as much.

US Airways also added workers at its Philadelphia and Charlotte hubs to better handle passenger re-accommodation. The goal is to have agents meet late flights and hand customers new boarding passes, Parker said.

American Airlines is also getting in on the fun:

American has enhanced its planning for diverted flights – planes that can’t get to their destination so they divert to an alternative airport to refuel and wait out storms. American’s operations center now tries to make sure diverted flights are spread across many airports so backups and logjams don’t occur on the ground.

And planners take into account group equipment: Don’t send an international flight to a city without U.S. Customs facilities in case passengers need to get off the plane, or don’t send a Boeing 757 to a city that may not have a tow bar for a 757 because it handles only small regional jets.

The airlines are also beginning to sell fewer flights on packed flights, but as Rick Seaney points out, they are quick to compensate for fewer seats by raising fares.

Airlines to alter booking protocol [WSJ via Rick Seaney]
(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


Edit Your Comment

  1. TWinter says:

    Glad to see that they are taking some steps, but they should have done this stuff sooner and they probably need to be doing more.

  2. falldowngoboom says:

    I tried fly US Airways for the first time out of Philly a couple of weeks ago. I say ‘tried’ since they cancelled my fight (no particular reason) and then scheduled me for the next day. And they wouldn’t put me on another flight that was delayed (and it was a Star Alliance airline, so it would have all stayed ‘in the family’.)

    No meal vouchers, no hotel info, no apology.

    I hope they are losing customers. They lost me for good and I’ve never even been in one of their planes.

  3. Lin-Z [linguist on duty] says:

    If they would have the passengers sitting in the back board BEFORE the ones sitting in the front, it would save 30 minutes everytime. I don’t know why they don’t do this already.

  4. Buran says:

    How about treating customers like humans and being respectful, not copping a “sit down, shut up, or we’ll make sure you get dragged off to jail” attitude?

  5. Buran says:

    @Lin-Z: No kidding. I had a woman yelp at me because my suitcase banged her hand, which she had draped over the armrest into the aisle, AND SHE WAS SITTING IN THE SECOND ROW. I’m sorry that you were too stupid to figure out that people would be filing past you because you got on first and sat in the front row. Now get your damn hand out of my way.

    Want to get on first? Fine, sit in the back or at least not in the freaking aisle seat right there in the front of the damn plane. You have a brain. Use it.

  6. FLConsumer says:

    @Lin-Z: I normally don’t fly commercial airlines, but on my JetBlue flights last month, they did indeed board the planes back-to-front.

  7. CurbRunner says:

    The airlines are only taking baby steps here to try and divert the bad publicity that they’ve been getting over keeping stranded passengers aboard planes for economic reasons.

    What the airlines have going for themselves here, and they know it, is that Homeland Security now gives them carte blanch to treat stranded passengers’ expressed concerns with total disregard under the new anti-terrorist laws. With this legal coverage in place, there is no incentive for them to do anything different from their current disgraceful practices regarding the treatment of their captive customers.

    Any passenger that even mildly protests their captivity inside of a grounded aircraft, can be heavily prosecuted for “interfering with” or “intimidating” flight attendants. Under Federal Law, US Code § 46504, a passenger can get from 20 years to life in prison for making an airline employee feel uneasy. It doesn’t matter if the toilets are overflowing, if your kid becomes sick and needs medical treatment, someone needs food and water or is out of their heart medicine. Even just visually complaining by looking at a flight attendant the “wrong way” (intimidation), under the law, they can now subjectively interpret that you are attempting to interfere with a flight crew and you can automatically be considered a terrorist suspect. Even stating you concerns can be interpreted as they please.

    You can be arrested and then who knows where you’ll end up, maybe in Guantanamo with no habeas corpus rights or maybe you’ll just be disappeared.

    What the airlines are really saying here is to remember, when you’re aboard a plane, just sit down, shut up and take it…because you’re not only just another passenger…now you’re also just another hostage.

  8. jamar0303 says:

    @CurbRunner: This, if for no other reason, is the reason that people should be protesting the anti-terrorism laws. In fact, depending on how bad it is and where I’m going, I might prefer something like LAX->NRT->JFK on ANA or JAL rather than a non-stop flight. Yes, I waste a day or two in Tokyo, but at least those airlines know how to treat their passengers.

    Of course, there’s always hoping that Virgin America will bring about the revolution the airline industry desperately needs.

  9. samftla says:

    If you are really sick and tired of what the airlines have been putting us through then go to this web site [www.strandedpassengers.blogspot.com]

    and [www.flyersrights.com]

    Find out how to support pending legislation in Congress to pass the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights. This is the only reason that airlines have in the 11th hour decided to take some half hearted measures to forestall congressional action. Contact your Representatives and Senators and urge them to support the current proposals as written, not how the airlines are trying to have them watered down into meaningless legislation.

    If you really want the airlines to clean up their act then take action.