With nasty weather once again enveloping the Northeastern United States and winter showing no signs of ending anytime soon, thousands of travelers find themselves killing a lot of time at airports. Flight delays are a fact of life and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it unless you want to pay the fees necessary to change your flights. That leaves us all spending much of our holiday or business trip twiddling our thumbs in crowded, boring airport terminals.
Earlier this week, we showed you how one imaginative traveler entertained herself in Pittsburgh International Airport. However, not all of us are that creative (or bold), so we have to find other activities to keep us sane. Gadling wants to know what your favorite time-killer is during a long flight delay.
Let us know by voting in the poll below and feel free to elaborate in the comments.
Yesterday, United Airlines announced that they had climbed to the first place for on-time performance among the five largest global carriers in the country. This means United performed better than Delta (including Northwest), American Continental and US Airways.
On-time performance means the plane arrived at its destination within 14 minutes of its scheduled arrival time. Their 2009 performance was 10% better than the previous year, and preliminary numbers show that the airline will continue the trend in 2010.
One of the driving forces behind the huge increase in performance is a cash bonus for employees – for each month the airline took first spot, employees receive $65. For the entire year, United paid out $32 million, with each employee earning an extra $825.
Since delays are probably the number one complaint from most passengers, I’m very happy that the airline is putting so much effort into becoming better at being on time. And I do have to admit that the past couple of flights I took on United did indeed depart and arrive on time, something not always true in the past.
Fingers crossed that other airlines pick up the pace, and do what they can to beat United – more on-time flights will eventually benefit us all.
Commuters on London‘s Tube got an earful last week when the station announcer gave a 30 minute play-by-play of the happenings on the tracks. Several trains were delayed and in between updating passengers on the status and predicting which train would be next, the announcer lamented the fact that his supervisor had previously reprimanded him for not offering enough information. Apparently, this was his way of showing just how much information he could provide.
Bystanders said the over-achieving announcer talked nearly nonstop for 30 minutes. It wasn’t all just technical blather though. The announcer also sympathized with the waiting passengers. “Once again, I do apologize for the disruption to your journey today,” he said, “It has upset me easily as much as it has upset you. Do trust me, that is coming from the heart.” See, boss? He’s not only informative, but he really cares too!
Later, he seemed to get more frazzled. “Is this what a nervous breakdown feels like?” he asked. Then he offered his suggestions for dealing with the annoyance. “You’ve got two options – apart from shooting yourself, and who could blame you?” Whoa, relax guy, it’s just a few delayed trains.
I’m betting his nonstop chatter actually made the delays a little more bearable for London commuters. If you’ve got to wait for a train, at least you can have a little station entertainment.
June was the worst month of the year for airline on-time performance since December, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Together, U.S. airlines had an on-time arrival rate of 76.1 percent, down from 80.5 percent in May. But, they had fewer delayed flights than in June 2008.
Hawaiian Airlines put up the best on-time results in June, with Delta subsidiary Comair at the other end of the spectrum. Continental had the fewest delays among the legacy carriers (those that had a large footprint before airline deregulation in 1978), and American Airlines was at the bottom of the barrel for this category.
Unsurprisingly, weather, equipment problems and airport congestion were cited as the most frequent reasons for flight delays. To count as a delay, a flight must be more than 15 minutes late – canceled and diverted flights also count. Through most of the year, flight delays fell largely because airlines were cutting routes and servicing fewer passengers.
Mishandled baggage fell, as well, year-over-year, though it was up from May to June. Reports were down 20 percent from June 2008 to June 2009. AirTran had the fewest gripes from passenger. American Eagle (a unit of American Airlines) had the most.
Chicago O’Hare, my home airport, has been ranked by Travel + Leisure as the 2nd worst airport in the country for its delayed flight percentages. But despite flying to and from the airport fairly often, I’ve never experienced the major delays it’s best-known for. Maybe the airport gods know that, as someone who is terrified of flying, I’m already under enough stress and just couldn’t take the added panic of a delayed flight. Or maybe, I’ve just been lucky so far. Either way, I was surprised to find O’Hare ranked quite so high on the bad list (and to learn that it was #1 in 2008). Some of the other findings were surprising as well, and some others – well, not so much.
Salt Lake City came in at the number one spot on the “best airports” list, based on a 12% delayed flight percentage. Portland, Minneapolis St. Paul, Los Angeles (LAX), Detroit and Orlando also made the top ten list. The losers included Miami, Dallas Fort Worth, Atlanta and Philadelphia. New York was doubly shamed with both JFK and Laguardia on the list. Taking the top spot was Newark with a whopping 30% of its flights delayed.
The magazine also ranked the best and worst airlines in America, based purely on on-time arrival rates. Comair and American were among the worst, with Hawaiian and Southwest showing the smallest percentage of delays.