Flight Cancellations Hold Steady Despite New Tarmac Delay Limit

Remember how airlines threatened to cancel a mess of flights if the Department of Transportation imposed fines for holding planes on the tarmac for more than three hours? Well, the DOT imposed the rule and it looks like airlines are coping just fine. The Wall Street Journal examined recently released data and found that the most probable explanation for the slight jump in cancellations is a combination of weather and shoddy maintenance.

The weather seems to have been worse for airlines in July. On-time performance for the U.S. industry dropped to 76.1% from 77.6% in July 2009, and there were fewer flights operating because of airline schedule cuts. (Less congestion generally translates into improved on-time arrivals.) The percentage of U.S. flights arriving 45 minutes or more past their scheduled arrival time also increased, to 9.8% of all flights tracked by FlightStats, compared to 9.1% last year.

And cancellations showed a similar small increase, to 1.4% of all flights from 1.2% last year. In terms of total numbers, there were 9,759 cancellations counted by FlightStats compared to 9,336 in July 2009.

It’s far from the armageddon that airlines predicted, something to remember next time a corporation argues that a pro-consumer regulation might end them.

Canceled Flights Up Slightly in July [The Middle Seat Terminal]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Pax says:

    It’s not just pro-consume, it’s also pro-Public Health.

    Extended periods of immobility – and, who has enough legroom to even TWITCH in those pack-em-in-like-sardines Coach seats – can cause Deep Vein Thrombosis (in this case, think “Economy Class Syndrom”). The complications that a DVT may present include a pulmonary embolism … resulting in death.

    Yeah, you heard me. DEATH. According to one project of the WHO, the risk of this occurring _doubles_for flights over 4 hours – so if you spend 3h30m on the tarmac before a 40-minute flight, congratulations, the airline is not only gambling with your life … they just went for “double or nothing”. >=

    More reading:


    • egoods says:

      This is why when I traveled for business and didn’t get a first class bump I’d get up a walk around every 2 hours. All these loyalty programs that add up to first class bumps probably boils down to the airlines trying to avoid killing there best customers.

    • rekoil says:

      Even worse, when a plane is stuck on the tarmac, passengers are told to stay in their seats and the fasten seatbelt signs are lit, since the plane could move “at any time” – thus making the DVT risk even worse than a passenger spending the same amount of time in flight with the ability to get up.

  2. Straspey says:

    I hear that the airlines are trying to get around this regulation by using a clever new tactic…

    There are now little signs as you board the plane which say:

    “Any passenger who wishes to exit the airplane after a three-hour delay must be prepared to show his receipt to a flight attendant.”

  3. George4478 says:

    Great, now they’ve double-dog-dared the airlines to cancel more flights.

  4. Nighthawke says:

    In what way has the weather been worse? Sure, there is a heat wave and more than a few violent storms in the midwest, but has there been anything happening around the hub airports to cause delays to occur?

  5. JustLurking says:

    For the love of god, can you guys get it through your thick skulls that is it not a “tarmac delay” it is a ramp delay.

    Tarmac is the materials some ramps are made of. But it’s just the stuff that roads and some runways are made out of. Would you call it a “Macadam Delay?” I didn’t think so.

    Just because some so-called journalist on TV in 1985 bleated out over and over again, “I’m standing here on the tarmac in Beruit and TWA flight 847 is just behind to my right,” does not mean that it is “a” tarmac. It’s a ramp.

    Please, can you stop saying it’s the tarmac and call it a ramp? Some are made of concrete, you know.

  6. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    So, the terrorists didn’t win???