Is this the worst week for air travelers since 9/11?

Victor/Shutterstock
Victor/Shutterstock

From bankruptcies to terrorist attacks, air travelers have seen it all in the last decade or so. But I can’t think of a week that’s been jam-packed with so much bad news for airline passengers since 2001. Maybe you can, but stick with me for a moment while I review the list.

It isn’t just the sequestration problems that are causing unforeseen slowdowns — it’s a confluence of other events, some related to the mandatory cuts, but many not.
Read more “Is this the worst week for air travelers since 9/11?”

Here we go again! Another tarmac stranding incident — beware of outraged talking heads on TV

It seemed eerily familiar: A JetBlue aircraft, a freak storm, passengers stranded on an aircraft for hours — and all happened near the media capital of the world.

Except that it wasn’t Valentines Day 2007, the infamous ice storm that cost JetBlue its golden reputation, made a small-minded mainstream media obsessed with tarmac delays and led to tough but largely unnecessary new government rules on tarmac delays.

It was happening right now, in real time.
Read more “Here we go again! Another tarmac stranding incident — beware of outraged talking heads on TV”

Should tarmac-delay rules become law?

As someone who has spent a career listening to travelers complain, I know what you don’t like when you’re on vacation.

You hate being ripped off by airlines, car rental companies and hotels. Silly rules frustrate you, too. So does bad customer service.

But what you don’t tell me is often just as important.
Read more “Should tarmac-delay rules become law?”

Tarmac delay hall of shame: holiday edition

Anyone who thinks tarmac delays are dead was in for a little shock this week. Hundreds of flights were delayed in a series of powerful blizzards, and a few sat between the runway and the terminal for hours, waiting for the weather to clear.

The Transportation Department, which hasn’t fined a single airline for a tarmac delay since instituting its three-hour rule last spring, will almost certainly have to take some enforcement action this time. And, of course, there’s a big loophole: International flights remain exempt from the turnback rule.

More than two dozen international flights waited more than three hours from Monday to Wednesday to get to an open gate in New York, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The worst delay appears to be a Cathay Pacific flight from Bangkok that arrived Monday evening and got to a gate 12 hours later at 7:45 a.m. Tuesday.
Read more “Tarmac delay hall of shame: holiday edition”

“The Department of Transportation has used a bazooka to kill an ant”

The long-awaited sequel to this summer’s controversial tarmac delay study has just been released. In it, aviation analysts Darryl Jenkins and Joshua Marks claim 384,000 more passengers were stranded by cancellations last summer, and an additional 49,600 air travelers experienced gate returns and delays. It calls on the Transportation Department to clarify its three-hour turnback rule — a rule the DOT insists is a resounding success.

I asked Jenkins about the study and its conclusions this morning. Here’s our interview.

You’ve analyzed flight cancellations based on last summer’s data. What’s the bottom line for passengers?

If it’s summer, and there’s a thunderstorm, and your flight is canceled because of this rule – and last summer, load factors were 90 percent or higher – it will take a full day to rebook you on another flight.
Read more ““The Department of Transportation has used a bazooka to kill an ant””