Thursday, July 05, 2007

When does a 24 hour delay equal a 2 hour delay? When an airline is doing the maths.

Thanks to my younger but more worldly uncle David for sending through a link to this article from the New York times that tells the sad sob stories of delayed passengers from a new and air rage creating angle.

The main thrust of the article is that once again airlines are being dodgy with their reporting and the truth (remember our friend stranded on a Delta flight for seven hours). He is the jist of the article. The on time statistics are all wrong

because these statistics track how late airplanes are, not how late passengers are. The longest delays — those resulting from missed connections and canceled flights — involve sitting around for hours or even days in airports and hotels and do not officially get counted. Researchers and consumer advocates have taken notice and urged more accurate reporting.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology did a study several years ago and found that when missed connections and flight cancellations are factored in, the average wait was two-thirds longer than the official statistic. They also determined that as planes become more crowded — and jets have never been as jammed as they are today — the delays grow much longer because it becomes harder to find a seat on a later flight.

That finding prompted the M.I.T. researchers to dust off their study, which they are updating now. But with domestic flights running 85 to 90 percent full, meaning that virtually all planes on desirable routes are full, Cynthia Barnhart, an M.I.T. professor who studies transportation systems, has a pretty good idea of what the new research will show when it is completed this fall: “There will be severe increases in delays,” she said.

I will never understand why airlines think that lying to passengers is a good marketing tactic.

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