Feds punish tarmac delays, airlines cancel flights instead (redux)

by Walter Olson on November 18, 2011

The Washington Post reports further developments on a regulatory-backfire story aired in this and many other places nearly two years ago.

{ 12 comments }

1 Scott 11.18.11 at 10:44 am

If the airlines hadn’t acted so badly in the past they wouldn’t have these dumb rules to follow. A pox on them.

2 James 11.18.11 at 1:32 pm

Aren’t cancelled flights better than sitting on a tarmac for 6 hours? I’m pretty sure most people would go for cancelled over stranded on a tarmac any day.

3 David 11.18.11 at 1:59 pm

I’m one of the people who’d go for cancelled over hours on the tarmac any day. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no backfire here.

Besides, it’s easier to figure out which airlines cancel a lot than figure out which ones just kidnap passengers on a regular basis, and then stay the away from them.

4 asdfasdf 11.18.11 at 2:43 pm

I agree with the other commenters (a first for me). Cancelled is much better than long tarmac delays.

5 Robert 11.18.11 at 3:16 pm

I fly a lot. About 4 times/month. 8-9 international trips a year.

The airline is doing you a favor if they sit on the runway hoping for a “window” where they can take off. I would much rather sit on a plane for 8 hours than have to go back to the airport, book a hotel for another night, reschedule 2 days of appointments and have to schlep back to the airport the next day, or even later if weather delays have clogged up the entire system.

It’s people like me who generate the most revenue for the airlines. And I find it outrageous that the Feds try to regulate this behavior which is actually working in the best interest of the airlines best customers. Sure, Ma and Pa Kettle may not like sitting on the airplane, but most business travelers would rather get to their destination that day rather than than be delayed an extra day or two.

6 Bill Alexander 11.18.11 at 9:02 pm

I think the problem is the airlines won’t just cancel the flights that would actually sit on the tarmac, but many more that might possibly do so due to conditions beyond the airline’s control.

7 Scott 11.19.11 at 7:42 am

Hey Robert … post back when you’re stuck on a plane for 10 hours with an over flowing tollet and no food.

8 Mannie 11.19.11 at 9:32 am

Hey Scott, post back when you have to show up at the airport three days in a row and don’t get to fly because the flights are cancelled just before boarding time, and you lose three days of pay at the end of your vacation.

9 nevins 11.19.11 at 5:20 pm

A much more sensible way for planes to queue might be to enter a virtual queue as soon as the doors are closed, but not sooner than the scheduled departure time (so that planes don’t strategically shut out passengers by having last call earlier than promised). Planes can enter the physical queue when it makes sense to to avoid under utilizing runway time; having spent a sunday afternoon watching airport operations on a layover recently, this seems like only 4-5 moving planes should be necessary to accomplish this aim.
Benefits:
1) all of the jets don’t have to sit with their engines running (even if they have one or more off during taxi and hold, there is waste).
2) they can stay attached to shore power and air conditioning, much greater comfort
3) passengers who wish to opt out of long waits may do so; even better, their seats can be filled by stand by folks who may wish to fly.
4) passengers who wish to take the long wait may do so, but without holding hostage the entire rest of the plane

10 Scott 11.19.11 at 5:25 pm

I’d rather that happen then be stuck on a shit smelling plane for 10 hours.

I’m surprised those passengers don’t call 911.

11 Robert 11.19.11 at 7:14 pm

Certainly the toilets should work, and they should provide water every hour or so.

The longest I’ve been “stuck” on a plane was about 4 hours. Nobody in the First Class cabin was complaining, though the captain had to keep reassuring the people in the back of the plane every 30 minutes or so.

It would be hard to let people leave the plane because their luggage would have to come off, too.

12 William Nuesslein 11.24.11 at 8:43 am

Stiff finds would be one way to deal with long delays on a ground stuck airplane. But why couldn’t somebody who makes trucks for Antarctica make a honey dipper vehicle that could handle any quantity of ice and snow to eliminate the major complaint of snow bound passengers. Such vehicles could also supply stranded planes with meals and water too.

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