Only Engines Should Whine

Oh Good Grief!

Airline delays reach new records….bullshit.

 It’s really important to understand a few things if you want this in perspective. If, on the other hand, you are part of a corporate decision making thinkhead group trying to justify the lease/purchase/timeshare of a multi-million dollar private jet then hide this from your boss.

#1. Nobody keeps track of flights that arrive early. Shouldn’t early arrivals offset some of the late ones?

#2. Most lost or mis-directed luggage is recovered. Usually pretty quickly. The rest of it is probably stolen.  Bust on down to baggage claim before somebody else takes your stuff. Especially in Atlanta.

#3. Bad weather causes delays. Thunder storms and winter wonderland scenarios are dangerous for all airplanes.  Avoiding danger takes time.

#4. Be nice, relax. Sometimes the plane is slow, but the sky is patient. You need to float like a leaf on the river of life.  Then fly at 600 miles per hour to get where you are going with a nasty kid kicking the back of your seat the entire time.

#5. You have the right to a bill of rights, you also stand a good chance of having a nationalized airline industry if the one we have now fails.

# 6. Flight crews do not make a big sack of money for being late, and we want to go home too. So be nice, we are probably gone from home more than you are.

# 7 Employees, government and otherwise,  often do a worse job when they want a raise. Our controllers are government employees.

# 8 It is true that privately operated jets make travel about a hundred times easier, but they are in many cases about a hundred times more costly and statistically an order of magnitude or so more risky than airline travel.

Be Nice and have Happy Landings


8 Responses to “Only Engines Should Whine”

  1. But gate agents get a big sack of money every time they announce delays, right? Why else would they reveal a 3 hour delay in two-minute increments?

  2. Gate agents have many strange ways and secret powers. Sometimes they don’t get any help from the pilots in translating FAA orginated nonsense and think they are telling the truth when they are really just babbeling. Two minutes at a time for hours.

  3. “# 6. Flight crews do not make a big sack of money for being late, and we want to go home too. So be nice, we are probably gone from home more than you are.”

    Granted, crews don’t get a big sack of money for being late, but they do get a big sack of money for flying the plane in the first place. The rest of us are actually paying for the privilege of being late.

    Surely you’ll forgive us if we grumble a bit when delays mean missed connections, lost work time, or a missed chance to tuck our little ones into bed. After all, I’d imagine you aren’t too happy when you have to wait an hour in the doctor’s waiting room or when you wait 45 minutes for a table at a restaurant only to wait another 45 for your food.

    As it turns out, many of us face financial penalties when we don’t provide our services or products on time. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the same of the airline industry.

  4. Some of you could also end up dead if you were to pressure your pilot to not take a delay in the interest of safety. That’s a big penalty.

    When cursing the weather please yell at the sky. If I had the power to control the weather I wouldn’t be working for a living.

    When cursing a traffic delay call your representatives and tell them you want to pay more in taxes to improve our aging ATC infrastructure.

    When you are in the unfortunate position of being late due to a mechanical delay be thankful that you aren’t in the air.

    The rest of the time please understand that the industry has lost more money than it ever made.

    So overall, it was a bad idea. Maybe we should all just stay home.

  5. After thoughtful reflection I’ve decided that your comment indicates an impliction that flight crews are responsible for delays.

    If I took that seriously it might piss me off.

  6. Pardon my delayed response…I’ve been traveling.

    I wasn’t actually blaming the crew, but I was pointing out that passengers do have a legitimate gripe in many cases. For example, I posted that last message while waiting for a flight–first flight of the day for that particular plane at that particular gate, and only the sixth flight of the day for that airport. Moments after we all got settled on the plane, the pilot informed us that we’d be waiting at least 20 minutes while maintenance replaced the nose cone. 20 became 40 which later expanded into an hour.

    In that situation 1) the plane should have been inspected following the last flight of the previous day, and the nose cone should have been replaced at that time, and 2) if the problem was first recognized that morning, it should have been detected before the passengers were loaded on the plane, and everyone should have been given the liberty to wait in the more comfortable terminal with easy access to restrooms and other amenities.

    Prior to the delay, I had a generous layover that would have allowed for a reasonable lunch break which was sorely needed. As it was, I had no time between flights. Fortunately the airline held the second flight for me while I battled with an unnecessary trip through security. The arrival gate was separated from the other gates by 20 feet of unsecure area, so I had to go through security again. The airline repeatedly called my name over the intercom, but I was slowed by pilots and crew who cut in line ahead of me. Then security hand searched the bag that I had just taken off another plane…

    Admittedly, the crew had nothing to do with the second round of security, and the second crew receives my appreciation (and the rest of the passengers’ ire) for holding the second plane. Sadly, as soon as I got buckled in for the second flight, the pilot announced a maintenance delay–this time it was supposedly “just paperwork” which took an additional 45 minutes.

    So, to make my point again, the crew is paid well to endure delays. As noted above, the crew doesn’t have to endure the lengthy waits in the security line. Passengers are increasingly finding the whole process less and less worth the hassle, but we don’t have many alternatives. While the crew can’t necessarily be held responsible for delays, the airline (scheduling, maintenance, failure to adhere to carry-on size restrictions), the FAA (scheduling), and TSA (inefficient and often ineffective safety procedures) should be held responsible for delays, and until they are, passengers have legitimate causes for complaints.

  7. The aviation term for this is Operational Goat Rope. I think this originates from a rodeo based freeforall during which several motivated participants persue a common goal in an uncordinated manner.

    Operational flexibility when things go wrong is the true measure of any organization. Putting yourself in the customers place and knowing when to apologize seems to help when the first measure is not lived up to.

    It seems like you might not have been in the hands of the “A” team.

  8. Oh, I almost forgot the pay thing. Most airlines pay the crew squat if a flight is late. Nada. Some pay by the minute, others by the tenth of an hour, some only while away from the gate, some only while passengers are on the plane. Most are careful to provide no incentive for tardiness.

    In some circumstances the FAA duty time or union work rule limits are exceeded which might require a crew to be replaced with partial pay. This is very different from one carrier to the next.

    We could wait in line for the TSA thing but then the duty day would be even longer and we would be illegal to fly sooner.

    The FAA is a whole ‘nuther story deserving of a few thousand words.

    One of my top ten favourite movie lines is from Airplane! “The FAA and Airline management are all a pack of liars, crooks and thieves. Every one.”

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