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)