The Village View

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Airline delays

Remember the old saying, "Lies, damned lies and statistics?" A bit of this is what I think ABC News uncovered with this story on Airline delays. The network had reported the delays like everyone else:

U.S. flight delays are at their highest level in at least 13 years, and analysts say fliers can expect more of the same for the rest of the summer.

The Department of Transportation on Monday said the industry's on-time performance in the first six months of the year was its worst since 1995, the earliest period for which the agency has comparable data. In June, nearly a third of domestic flights on major U.S. airlines were late.

That's bad enough; trust me, I'm on the road almost every week. But, they dug deeper and found out that the actual situation is much worse than the reported:

This summer is shaping up to be the worst ever for delays, but the dismal numbers don't tell the whole story, because they measure late planes, not late passengers.

For instance, if you arrive three hours late and miss a connection, it can take hours or days to re-book another flight because planes are flying nearly full this summer. But officially, the only delay that's reported is the initial, three-hour-late arrival.

The same rule applies if your plane is diverted to another city. It's counted solely as a diversion, and the subsequent delay goes unreported.

Recently, I was trying to get back from what was supposed to an overnight trip to San Francisco
(I was supposed to be there less than 24 hours). My red eye was canceled and I got on a flight the next day which was delayed about 4 hours. I landed at JFK at 10pm instead of 6:30am, but I guess according to American Airlines I would only have been 4 hours late. Lucky me.

This week I traveled to Boston, Chicago, Philly, back to New York (by train) and then on to Orlando. The only leg of that which was not late was the flight to Orlando. Even given the fact that flights to Florida from the Northeast must be the slowwwwweeessst boarding flights known to man we arrived 1o minutes early. On Tuesday, I'm flying back out to the West Coast. Wish me luck.

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