Air Travel Delays: Bad, Getting Worse
FAA Blames Poor Weather, Traffic Congestion; Little Improvement Likely
By Del Quentin Wilber
Douglas Stone's summer has felt like an endless flight delay.
The Darnestown biotech executive has been trapped in Tampa by thunderstorms. His family vacation to Aruba took an unexpected detour when his plane's weather radar died and it had to return to the United States. On a trip home from Dallas, thunderstorms and a tardy flight crew caused his flight to be canceled. He managed to find a ride on another carrier, finally landing at Reagan National Airport at 2:30 a.m. -- about eight hours after his scheduled arrival time.
"The entire process is anxiety-laden," said Stone, who was able to relax on a recent trip only by driving instead of taking a plane. "Flying is stressful enough. But if you have to worry about whether your flight is going to be on time, whether you are checking a bag, how you are going to make a connection -- this is significantly worse than it has ever been."
Stone is right. Federal statistics and data compiled by flight-tracking services show that delays are worse than ever before recorded. The first five months of the year rank as the worst in terms of delays -- 26 percent of flights were late or canceled -- since the Transportation Department began keeping such statistics in 1995.
Fear and loathing at the airport
Everyone is unhappy with air travel, but no one can do anything about it
By Chris Palmeri and Keith Epstein
Updated: 1:06 p.m. ET Sept 14, 2007
When Marion C. Blakey took over at the Federal Aviation Administration in 2002, she was determined to fix an air travel system battered by terrorism, antiquated technology, and the ever-turbulent finances of the airline industry. Five years later, as she prepares to step down on Sept. 13, it's clear she failed. Almost everything about flying is worse than when she arrived. Greater are the risks, the passenger headaches, and the costs in lost productivity. Almost everyone has a horror story about missed connections, lost baggage, and wasted hours on the tarmac. More than 909,000 flights were late through June of this year, twice the level of 2002.
And if you think the Summer from Hell is over, fasten your seat belt. The FAA predicts 1 billion passengers a year will take to the skies by 2015, a 36 percent increase from the current level. FAA officials say this year's Labor Day crunch could become an everyday flying fiasco within eight years, costing America's economy $22 billion annually.
The Best of Flights, the Worst of Flights
Flying is worse than ever for consumers—but more lucrative than ever for airlines.
By Daniel Gross
Posted Saturday, Aug. 4, 2007, at 7:52 AM ET
Flying today is a Dickensian affair. Flight diaries read like production notes for Oliver: endless lines, screaming children, basic necessities confiscated, uncomfortable physical inspections, cramped conditions, and food of dubious quality.
For frequent fliers, it is clearly the worst of times. In the first quarter of 2007, only 71.4 percent of flights arrived on time, and 19,260 passengers were involuntarily bumped—up 13 percent from the year before. In July, 16,988 flights were canceled, up 54 percent from July 2006, according to FlightStats.com.
Airline delays in June worst since 2000
BY JAMES BERNSTEIN email@example.com
3:36 PM EDT, August 6, 2007
Was your flight delayed in June? You had company. Lots of company.
Major airlines reported that 29 percent of all flights in the U.S. were delayed in June, the worst rate for that month since 2000, the U.S. Department of Transportation said Monday. The DOT considers a flight delayed if it arrives at the gate 15 minutes later than scheduled.
The figures for July and August are not expected to be much better, industry experts said.
Major airlines also reported a higher rate of mishandled baggage and canceled flights this past June than during either this past May or the previous June, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released by the DOT. The report also shows that consumer complaints against air carriers rose in June compared to the same previous months.
This is the busiest summer for air travel in 40 years, placing added strain on an already aging and over-burdened air-traffic control system, say industry experts and travel agents.