Who is responsible for your flight delay?

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Even though Kurt Johnson doesn’t work for the TSA, that doesn’t stop him from lending a hand when he’s stuck in a long line at a security screening area. “I’ll sometimes grab an extra tray or two to help move things along,” says Johnson, who runs a fitness Web site in Los Angeles.

Like most frequent air travelers, Johnson has always suspected that the main cause of travel delays aren’t the operational challenges that airlines, buses and trains face, but other people. New research may prove him correct.

A study now in progress follows up on the findings of scientists at Dartmouth College, MIT and the University of Texas at Austin, which concluded that although the average flight delay is 15 minutes, this translates into an average half-hour holdup for passengers because of missed connections and cancellations.

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That made Dartmouth engineering professor Vikrant Vaze wonder about the root causes of delays. Specifically, who’s to blame for most of them: airline crewmembers or passengers? “There are various ways delays can happen,” he explains. “Right now, the effect of aircraft disruptions is fairly well researched. The impact of crew and passenger unavailability is less well studied.”

Passengers already have their own theories, and they aren’t shy about sharing them. Their anecdotes offer a few strategies for lessening travel delays, at least until Vaze’s research is done.

Sometimes, the slowdowns are caused by a pilot or a flight attendant who didn’t show up for work. Manny Kopstein, a marketing executive from Tiburon, Calif., was escorting a group of students from San Francisco to Cancun, Mexico, several months ago when a United Airlines agent told him that his flight had been delayed. “Your captain cannot be found,” she repeated. “He’s a no-show. The crew is here and checked in, but the captain can’t be located.”

United rerouted Kopstein’s group through Houston, but they lost thousands of dollars in forfeited hotels. United offered a $250 voucher as an apology after I asked the airline about his trip.

The bulk of people-caused delays, though, are the fault of other passengers. Barry Maher, a professional speaker based in Corona, Calif., recalls a recent flight from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles. “It was a late-boarding family who’d also bought their tickets late, and who refused to be seated until they could all sit together,” he recalls. “Several people, including myself, volunteered to switch seats with them, but [the father] insisted that the airline do the rearranging around the seats he wanted, in the process bumping two people on aisle seats into middle seats.”

Maher missed his connecting flight.

Most of the time, delays aren’t so dramatic. It’s one or two passengers who board slowly or have trouble finding space in the overhead luggage compartment. But put it all together, and it creates a ripple effect of delays, which can lead to late arrivals or missed connections.

The knowledge gained from these collective experiences applies to almost any mode of transportation — even the New York subway. Kenneth Campbell, a TV producer from Yonkers, knows, as do most daily subway commuters, that tourists move slowly on and off the platforms. You don’t walk with the crowd; you cut through it if you want to get to work on time. “I’ve learned that sometimes a friendly New Yorker is a late New Yorker,” he says.

The takeaway? Avoid the tourist mob, no matter how you’re getting there. It will almost certainly slow you down. Pack light and don’t be afraid to run from time to time.

Coming up with a solution to passenger-caused delays may be the provenance of researchers like Vaze, the Dartmouth professor. He wonders not only about the blame-breakdown between airline employees and passengers, but also about how the study might affect airline policy. “Perhaps we’ll know that crew contributes X percent of the delays,” he says. “But will it be 1 percent, or 5 percent, or 20 percent? We don’t know yet.”

Until then, you can make sure that you’re not part of the problem. Arriving early and ready for any security checks will ensure that you’re not the last person on the bus, plane or train.

Also, says Jason Pedwell, a frequent traveler and business consultant based in Seattle, find a seat that’s easy to reach, like an aisle seat. That will also ensure that you won’t experience any additional delays when you exit. “As soon as the plane reaches the gate, I’m up, bag in hand and standing in the aisle,” he says.

But sometimes, despite your best efforts, you can’t prevent a delay. Frequent traveler Cathy Svacina remembers a recent flight from Kansas City to New York. Her aircraft taxied down the runway and then abruptly pulled over and waited for more than half an hour. “The pilot said we were having a slight delay but, he didn’t say why,” remembers Svacina, a professional memorabilia collector from Kansas City. “I saw a small cart drive out to the plane with a gentleman on it.”

The passenger boarded and sat down in the empty seat beside her. “I said to him, ‘You must be the president of this airline to get service like that,’ ” she says. “He looked at me and then quietly said, ‘Oh no, I’m only the vice president.’ ”

Who is most to blame for flight delays?

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114 thoughts on “Who is responsible for your flight delay?

  1. Jeez Chris you forgot the weather, the FAA, people who set control towers on fire…

    But if your just asking between passengers and crew members its hands down crewmembers because your plane will just leave without you if you drag your feet.

    1. It depends, if you’re checked in and you’ve checked baggage, and your on the ground they will likely wait for you. If your a no show or still int he air, etc, they are going without you.

      1. Oh, now I understand … human-caused delays … passengers absolutely. More clueless people are flying around than ever before. And some of them are rude. Some will hold up a flight so the family can sit together, they couldn’t care less about anyone else. The captain stays in the cockpit so he doesn’t get involved … everybody loses.

  2. Human systems are plagued with error. They could fix the whole issue by just padding the flight schedule an hour or however long they needed too. Passengers don’t really complain much about flight times, they complain about missed connections and late or missed business, or whatever it is they are flying too.

      1. Even if the number of flights can remain constant with the extra minutes in the schedules (each plane’s first flight of the day starts earlier and last flight ends later), padding the flight times mean even tighter connection times. Your on-time rate goes up, but your misconnects also goes up.

      2. And this is where I argue that the cost savings with baggage fees ultimately translates into a net loss for consumers: The few times I have flown with baggage fee airlines, I have encountered “gate lice”. Folks with carry on bags they schlepped through security and now want to get access to the precious overhead bin space. The rude behaviors I saw on that flight were remarkable: A well dressed businessman who stuffed his bag into the overhead bin at the front of the plane and moved to the back. Zone 1 passengers crowding the gate while the gate was calling for Zone 3. Aggressive behavior in the aisles upon reaching the gate. And it seems the passengers who are first to get up act like Los Angeles drivers: They tailgate for miles on end and then when they finally reach the bottleneck, they have to rubberneck whatever incident caused the delay. If you’re in a rush, then grab your bag QUICKLY and get moving. Don’t celebrate that it’s finally your turn and relish moving your bag down. All of this causes delays that affect the airlines bottom line but since they overcharge for the baggage fees, their profits are up.

        Regarding padding the schedule and causing less flights: In the states, I know that there’s a deadzone time for many planes overnight since it’s not considered profitable to run a lot of red eyes. So there is that padding available. In general, a plane is going to get used maybe twice per day flying back and forth between two points or onto another destination. Then the crew also has their own fatigue FAA requirements for rest. So there is a hard limit to how many times a day a plane can fly anyway.

        1. Not sure what type of flights you are referring to, but aircraft often fly several segments more than twice per day.

          1. Agreed. It depends upon the run. If it’s between two cities merely 2 hours flight apart (plus turnaround), then several times a day is possible. For longer hauls (coast to coast), then much less.

    1. United padded their schedules a couple years ago when their on-time rate dropped to the lowest in the entire aviation world. It helped a bit, especially on flights that had an impossibly tight turn time to start with. But I have noticed lately that those extra minutes are disappearing again. Not sure how this has impacted their on-time rate overall, but I have not been on an on-time flight in about 4 months.

      1. I have noticed this with connection times lately, Mark. Since reaccommodating people from a missed flight is horrendously expensive, I can’t figure out why the airlines are doing it, we’re only talking about 10-15 minutes mostly.

  3. On the family that was allegedly bumping people into middle seats from SBA to LAX… this sounds a little embellished.

    What puddle jumper even HAS middle seats? Regional planes are either 2-1 or 2-2. No middle seats anywhere on those planes; window or aisle, period. (FWIW, the airline that runs this route, United Express, currently operates it with a 2-2 CRJ.)

    1. Yeah. I couldn’t get past that either. If it were a mainline aircraft that seated 3-3 or 2-3, then it wouldn’t be a “puddle jumper”. I’m still researching what “puddle jumper” may have a middle seat. I find errors like this distracting from the rest of the article. If it were a television drama courtroom, the “lends to credibility” phrase comes to mind.

      1. I relied on this source (and fact-checked it with him) for accurate information. You can’t independently verify every detail a source gives you, particularly one that isn’t relevant to the story. I mean, did it ever occur to you that Maher might have been referring to aisle seats, in the middle of the plane? To say that’s “distracting” and takes away from the credibility of the story is just amusing to me. And now, back to my espresso.

        1. I’m with the fact checkers. There are no middle seats on the plane that operates the route. If he was referring to a seat in the middle of the plane he would have said “from seats at the front to seats in the middle”. The story doesn’t add up and folks are right to call it out.

          1. And so you’re saying because a source called it a middle seat in a quote, and I said, “Are you sure this quote is accurate?” and he said, “Yes,” that the entire story has lost credibility? Really?

          2. Agreed. CRJ’s are the type of planes UA flies between SBA and LAX. There are no middle seats. Carrier, flight number and date of travel should always be provided for fact checking.

          3. Agreed…You can go to SeatGuru and type in the flight # and it will tell the metal for the flight…don’t know that flight #, just type in the cities and it will tell the metal for each flight between the cities…it doesn’t take any time at all.

          4. Except that doesn’t tell you of any substitution, where you can check history…or at least I can, and see what was flown if I know the day, the carrier and the flight.

          5. Agreed…it does take away SOME credibility of the witness.

            If someone told me that there was a plane with three seats (aisle, middle and window) that’s flies into SBA, my first question would have been: “Are you telling me that the plane was a 737, A319 or MD-88? I am not aware that planes bigger than a CRJ that flies in and out of SBA?”

            I don’t know about SBA but San Luis Obispo, CA (SBP) has issue with a CRJ when there is a weather issue due to the length of the runaway.

          6. Yes… Really! Mr. Maher should be dragged out into the street and horsewhipped, and YOU? You need to find a ceremonial sword with which to disembowel yourself. Sorry you had to hear it from me. 🙁

        2. It never occurred to me that he was moved to the middle of the aircraft, because he stated he was moved to a middle seat. I guess I should not take things to literally and not focus on details too much. Enjoy the English Breakfast Tea!

        3. Chris, it is reasonable to question because the emphasis of his statement was that other passengers were bumped from aisle seats into middle seats, as if that was unfair. If it were an aisle seat to aisle seat (or window seat for the regional jet), he wouldn’t have said anything. You indicated no statement by him regarding the flight delay. It may be insignificant, but it does give the appearance of exaggeration on his part to make the situation appear worse than it was.

          Edited: note he says “[the father] insisted that the airline do the rearranging around the seats he wanted, in the process bumping two people on aisle seats into middle seats.”, not ” … in the process delaying the flight by xx minutes.”

    2. I agree that there is an embellishment, an error, misuse of words or etc.

      The typical metal for flights for smaller airports such as SBA are:

      Jets (which I don’t personally considered to be puddle jumpers)
      CRJ200, CRJ700, CRJ900, ERJ145

      Props (these are the true puddle jumpers)
      de Havilland Dash 8 – 100 & 200
      de Havilland Dash 8 – 300
      Bombardier Q400

      Out of the these planes, only the de Havilland Dash 8 – 100 & 200 have a middle seat (only one) which is the last row of the plane (the one lavatory is at the front of the plane).

      I have flown into the smaller airports on the west coast (US and Canada) and I have never been on a puddle jumper that had a 3-2 or 3-3 configuration. It has always been 1-2 or 2-2. Back in the late 80s, I was on an US Airways (east coast) flight on a puddle jumper that I thought was a 1-1 seat configuration…I think that the plane had 16 or 20 seats. You could see the pilot…there was no door if I recall correctly.

      1. That would have been the Beechcraft 1900. No Flight Attendant or lavatory either. They have installed a door because FAA requires it, but many times the pilots still leave it open (at least on some airlines).

        1. Thanks…I thought that it could have been a Beechcraft or a Fairchild.
          You might know the answer to this…back in 1985 or 86 or 87, I took a flight from Pittsburgh to Lancaster, PA or Harrisburg on US Air. It was a prop. I am guessing that the capacity was between 50 to 80. It was like a double decker (two floors) or it look like it had two floors. It was kind of strange looking…it was the only time that I flew on that metal in my travels. Any guesses???

          1. Just guessing, but US flew the Short 330 and Short 360 commuter turbo props in the ’80s. Only thing I can think of that looked double decked. The pilot cabin was elevated above the passenger cabin. But they only held about 40 pax at most.

    3. How exactly did the poster know that the late-boarding family had “also bought their tickets late”? That’s become code for “it’s their fault that they couldn’t book seats together”…..but I’d just really like to know how any seated pax could possible know WHEN any other pax purchased their ticket? Did this guy see the dad pull out his credit card at the check-in desk?

      I have no doubt the dad of the late-boarding family might have been a jerk, and that there are families who behave badly in the whole seating thing – but embellishing the story to make it sound like a slam dunk that meets ALL of the sterotypical “bad” criteria just makes the source lose credibility.

  4. Airlines don’t want a survey done to determine who is causing the delays. They know it is them through crew scheduling, ridiculous flight scheduling, and their lack of incentive to the employees to get the plane back in the air. Passengers are responsible for the time it take to actually get off of the plane once it arrives.

    The plane does not go anywhere without the crew. One particular airline (I won’t name because it really doesn’t matter) likes to have crews change planes at nearly every stop. So you have a perfectly good plane with a perfectly good crew that arrives on time but then your flight on that plane is delayed because the crew that will be on your flight is stuck somewhere because it drizzled in Omaha. And then the crew that came in on your plane has to sit around because they will be on that late plane going out. I’m sure this scheduling makes sense to the airlines, but to someone who thinks logically it really doesn’t.

    The same goes for airline schedules. When it takes a minimum of 45 minutes for a plane coming into the US to be cleared by customs after all the passengers exit before it can fly onward, why do airlines continue to schedule them with only 30 minutes of turn time? Even without the customs clearance, the 30 minutes for many airlines is nearly impossible. And then once a flight will be late departing for whatever reason, the airline employees seem to lose any urgency in getting that flight out.

    As far as late arriving passengers who want to rearrange the entire seating plan to get the seat they think they deserve: tough. Take the seat you were assigned. The rest of us did. If you are traveling with small children, then sure I understand your child must sit with one of the adults. But the family of 12 that wants to move everyone out of the premium seats just so all of them can sit with the one who was assigned a seat in that section. No. The airline should be firm about this.

    A coworker likes to call airplane passengers “human cholesterol” since they always seem to clog up the aisles. I can get on a plane, find my seat, stow my carryon, and be seated in seconds. Same when exiting the plane. (OK, maybe I’m quicker than some.) What constantly amazes me is the passengers that needed wheelchairs to get to their seat before departure seem to be able to stand up and walk just fine once we arrive at our destination (it couldn’t be that they just wanted to board first so they have room for their 47 carryon bags could it?). Or the ones that need time and assistance getting up the aisle who insist on standing in the aisle first even after the FAs announce repeatedly that those needing assistance should remain seated. Or you have those that get on the plane and stop at every row to see if it is the one they will be sitting in when their ticket says row 54 and they are only at row 5.

    1. I hate to excuse ignorance, but here’s my attempt:

      I think the discombobulated behavior you observe may be due to the complications of modern flying. Going through security is a challenge even when I’m fully alert. I have to check every pocket and crevice on my body as if I’m going to visit a relative in Sing Sing and make sure to have my boarding pass in hand. Also, I have to ensure that my shoes are off, if required, and belt (again if required) and they’re in the first bin to come out. Other passengers are also unintentionally complicating matters as they use up the bins and I have to get some spares before I can go through X-ray.

      American airports are also noisy not just due to the passengers but also the media such as CNN blasting away in several places. Chairs are usually dirty. This discomfort makes it a challenge for me to focus so I can only imagine what the normal person who rarely flies goes through.

      1. There are many people who seldom fly who seem to have no issues getting through security and on and off a plane. They listen to what they are being told and follow orders (however ridiculous those orders might be) because they are not familiar with the process. Those that refuse to listen, feel the instructions are not aimed at them, or are too focused on their smart phone to have any awareness to what is going on around them only add to the confusion and frustration every other traveler feels.

        I am glad you make an attempt to focus on what needs to be done as it can be difficult with all of the sometimes overwhelming distractions at an airport. I doubt I would have any issue following you through security or boarding a plane after you.

        1. The problem is phone calls and other electronic devices. People are too busy or engulfed in them to actually listen to any given announcement of directions being given. They then get mad and the employee that has to tell them something is “rude”

  5. There are few things in life that bring me as much joy as sitting near a gate where I can see airline agents repeatedly page a passenger, over and over and over, and ultimately struggle to make the decision to remove their bags and depart without them… only to have said passenger roll up to the gate fifteen minutes after their flight should have left with either duty-free shopping or take-away food.

    1. You can sometimes see one of these passengers who missed their flight come staggering out of the bar across from the gate and are able smell the alcohol on his/her breath from 20 feet away.

  6. Stop charging for the first checked bag and the problem of delayed flights because people can’t find space in the overhead will be less of a factor in causing delays. Allow a free checked bag PLUS impose a $35 charge for putting a bag on board (like Spirit Airlines does) and the problem of not enough space in the overhead will completely disappear.

    I was on a three hour Southwest Airlines flight last week and noticed that, despite the carrier’s two bags fly free policy, some passengers still carried a bag aboard. Charging them for doing so will change much of that behavior. Some people will complain that carrying their bag onboard will save valuable time at the destination since they don’t have to wait in the baggage claim area for their bag to arrive. I contend that without bags in the overhead, boarding and deplaning times will be quicker and that the time saved for the total trip will be about equal to the time spent retrieving their luggage.

    1. You know what? You need to stop blaming carry on travelers for this problem. The real problem is that some people don’t know how to pack a carry on bag and bring overstuffed monsters in to the plane. I’ve traveled with just a carry on long, long, long before the bag check fees. My carry on is soft sided and regulation sized – I’ve never had a problem getting it into the bin.
      The issue isn’t about money. It’s about the freedom that comes with a small bag, maintaining control of my belongings. It’s also about going straight to the gate without having to stand in multiple lines to check my luggage. I can save an hour at each end of the flight. So you are talking about a 2 hour delay to be equal to the time spent waiting.

      1. And if your flight is delayed or cancelled and you only have a carry on the airline will put you on another flight before they will someone with checked bags. Why? It is easier for them and there is no additional delay for the other flight while they search for your bags.

      2. I have to take a bus from the closest major airport to my hometown. I’ve missed the last bus of the night while waiting for my bag from a delayed flight. Had I carried it aboard, I would have made it…I saw it drive by while standing at the Southwest bag claim.

      3. I disagree. I believe it is the volume of carry-on baggage that causes so many delays when boarding and deplaning. Yes, some people also don’t know how to properly pack a small bag, but the number of people bringing their bags on the plane cannot be ignored as part of the problem.

        1. Frostysnowman is correct. All the airline counters have a size-limit form… “If it doesn’t fit in the form, it cannot be carried abord.” I have never, NEVER, seen a passenger challenged. That’s why we see those huge suitcases dragged in the cabin.

          1. And you have never seen passengers throw absolute tantrums when the plane is already out of overhead space and agents are trying to check their bags. Ridiculous.

          2. um, i see that constantly, at my gates, when i challenge the large bags. sadly, the bins aren’t meant to hold a roller bag for every single passenger (i think they should be, but i’m not an aircraft designer), so there are many times when the final boarding groups won’t have enough bin space for their carryon items and we are forced to check. or I have been a passenger on planes when agents haven’t bothered to check sizes and then the space runs out way too early.

            so, yes, i see grown adults regress into absolute children on a too-regular basis, and it’s sad.

      4. Some of us have to carry somewhat bulky items. I travel with a CPAP rig, an asthma nebulizer and compressor, and my emergency and maintenance medications. In addition, I carry a notebook computer, a DSLR camera, a CD player, a CD wallet, and Bose QC15 headphones. The computer, DSLR, and audio gear live in a backpack that was designed for that kind of thing. The CPAP, nebulizer and compressor, and the meds live in a 22x14x9 rolling carryon, and they pretty well fill it up. I’ve gone to some trouble to learn how to pack them, and those bags just aren’t going to get any smaller.

    2. All the airlines have to do is enforce their carryon size and item count limits. Problem solved.

      It is the people dragging their entire worldly possessions on to the plane that cause the boarding delays. A large rolling bag and a large folding suit bag do NOT equal one carry on and a personal item.

      1. Sorry, but most, if not all, current airline overhead bins cannot accept a legal-sized carry-on from every single passenger (I believe there’s room for 60-75% of passenger bags). Something’s got to give.

        1. True, but if we stop certain passengers from bringing on excessive items (exempting medically necessary items), there will be more room for those who follow the rules.

      2. That’s all? Again, perhaps you have never witnessed the absolute tantrums some people throw when agents tell them their bag is too large, or even that there is no more overhead space in the cabin.

        1. That’s irrelevant. Gate agents are paid to address their company rules, including size and weight restrictions. If they’re unwilling to do that then perhaps they should work in a different field.

          1. How so? Should the agents just let things go? The check in and gate agents are the ones most capable, from the airline side, of making sure bags brought on are capable of being stowed quickly and easily. Are airline passengers to blame for many delays? Sure. But that doesn’t mean the agents shouldn’t be doing their job.

    3. I always check a bag. I do not want to have to pay to stow my backpack with not-to-be-lost essentials in the overhead. My regular-sized purse goes under the seat, when I’m not in a preferred bulkhead seat.

    4. Many people carry bags which cannot be checked, laptops, electronics, medicines, medical devices, etc. Hardly seems right since the purpose, to incentivize behavior, fails.

    5. How about people to pack less, and pay for their own baggage that they use. I travel lite, and I don’t want to subsidize other peoples luggage.

      A middle ground, would be to simply require anyone who is even close to gate check their carry on.

        1. How about nothings free, and you pay to check your baggage. This issue would go away if people stopped trying to get something for nothing.

          Yes it can go away, how about airlines get rid of the overhead bins. You have to put your personal item under the seat in front of you. Then the problem will go away, and people will just pay for their luggage.

          1. Considering that luggage is a part of traveling for most, and was included in the ticket purchase in the past, it isn’t unreasonable to go back to one piece being allowed to be included in the ticket purchase….even though it use to be two. Southwest includes it and the fares aren’t lower on competing carriers that now charge. With that, people are going to try and bring as much as they can on board.

          2. I’m not most people, and I don’t want to subsidize the luggage costs of most people. That was then this is now, that’s the point of making the distinction of events “in the past”, it indicates that they are no longer in the present.
            It is unreasonable to me, that I pay and subsidize the cost of other people baggage.

            As I wrote airlines can very quickly and easily eliminate and put to an end the excessive carry on’s. Watch this I’m going to show you how to do it:

            New Term to COC:

            Your fare permits one personal item that can fit under the seat in front of you. All other baggage must be checked and an additional fee paid.

            See that was easy.

          3. You’re allowed to check 2 pieces of baggage with your ticket (you can’t check baggage without a ticket), you just have to pay for it, like EVERYTHING else in the world. Pay for what you use,a nd what you want. Why should I and others have to pay for your inability to travel lite. My plan is cheaper (for me) and works out just fine without the burden of subsidizing your luggage.

          4. No problem, we bring on 4 pieces pieces of carryon,.all allowable and get free checked luggage, too, with my credit card, when we travel coach. Lately is has all been first class, so free checked luggage with that, too. Oh and with the kids, we get to bring their seats and carryons, too. Don’t you just love seeing us board 🙂

          5. No, I don’t but I prefer traveling in economy, so I wouldn’t see you, since you would be at the front of the plane.
            I get a free checked bag with my affinity credit card as well, I just don’t use it. I don’t have to worry about checking in at the counter or at the curb, and I don’t have to go to luggage claim to collect it, and most importantly I don’t have to wheel it around with me.

    6. And when it’s safe to check my laptop, camera, and other electronics, I’ll stop bringing them onboard. It’s not fair to charge a fee to carry on things that cannot be checked.

    7. I hate to sound petty, but it’s warranted above. Spirit does NOT allow for a free checked bag while charging for carryons. They charge hefty rates for BOTH.

  7. “Vice-president”? Possibly title inflation. Some companies hand out the title of vice-president like it’s candy. One place I worked, the primary founder was the only “senior vice-president” in the company, but the vice-president title was handed out to lots of people. If you use a large bank, almost everyone with their own desk is a “vice-president” including loan officers and low-level managers.

    1. Worked for a bank where the titles went:

      Junior Assistant Vice President
      Assistant Vice President
      Senior Assistant Vice President
      Junior Vice President
      Vice President
      Senior Vice President
      Executive Vice President
      Senior Executive Vice President

      The only real difference with the first 4 – 5 levels was the maximum amount of a loan or overdraft they could approved. Only the top four were really managers.

      I left with the title of “Vice President” which was awarded to me two weeks before my entire group was laid off. Meant my severance was doubled. 🙂

  8. These are overly simplistic choices to a complex question. I’ve experienced late boarding followed by an immediate admonishment to take seats quickly so we can depart on time. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told about “late arrival of incoming aircraft,” experienced late arriving passengers finding no overhead space unoccupied and having the flight crew try to find an open spot or taking the luggage to be checked… or the line backed
    up because first class passengers are stowing their overhead bins and people can’t get through. Why not fill the back of the plane first and the first class last. That would make sense, but having paid more they expect to be first. I’ve sat on the runway having just landed, and heard an apology for the delay because there wasn’t a gate open. Didn’t they expect us?

    1. But if you make the 1st class people wait then they can’t get their pre flight drink!!
      One more disappearing perk!!! The horror of waiting until the plane is in the air to have some alcohol!!!!

      Why don’t airlines also use the back door of the plane to board through? This would expedite boarding. Ted tried, but not enough gates have the second jetway, especially at smaller airports.

      And I have been on too many flights to count where even after reaching the gate we had to wait more than 15 minutes for someone to arrive to drive the jetway out to the plane. What, they were not expecting us? Apparently the fact we arrived was a surprise to everyone at the airport.

    2. I fortunately enough to travel in first. I wouldn’t mind boarding last if the FA guarded those first class bins like they were in Fort Knox. One of the important perks of First, at least for me, is that I rarely have to worry about bin space.

      But, I would be curious to know how much of a delay is it considering how small first is.

    3. And the rabble going to the back of the a/c grab ALL the newspapers while the hi-paying customers get bupkis! BTDT! I got bupkis.

  9. Carry-on bags. Things moved much more quickly before the airlines started charging for checked bags and people started bringing their luggage on to the planes.

    1. After getting clocked in the head with one full of crappy Di$ney souveniors on my favorite route this week…THIS X1000.

      And the woman insisted it was carry-on size when it was not. Finally an FA put it in the front closet. Should’ve made that witch pay to check it. I didn’t even get an apology from her for hitting me with it…

      1. A recent flight I took on Frontier had to be the worst when it came to so called carry on items.

        Guy gets on with a rolling bag (looked more like a closet to me) and FA said nicely “Sir, that won’t fit …”and he cut her off to say “Yes, it will [expletive deleted]!” He then proceeded to attempt to stuff the bag into the overhead breaking the bin door in half as he slammed it repeatedly. The pilot walked into the plane at that time and the man dragged his bag off and the pilot followed him. Pilot returned with passenger and no bag. After the man took his seat FA said to the pilot “I don’t want that passenger on the flight.” The pilot replied “Get over it.”

        It took 2 hours for the repair guy to tape the door shut well enough that we could fly. Needless to say, a lot of people missed connections. And the service on that flight to all the passengers by all the FAs was very cold.

        1. Considering stories I have read about FA’s bouncing passengers off of flights, this sounds extraordinary not only because the pilot sided with the rude passenger ahead of an FA, but also the pilot followed him.

          Seems like perhaps the pilot had a friendship/relationship with the passenger.

          Otherwise, pilots tend to side with FA’s to avoid conflict and backbiting from the rear crew.

          1. Clearly you haven’t done the FA job. First they can’t kick pax off the ca can but rarely would the ca not get all facts before calling security unless someone is belligerent and you can’t get anything but called names by speaking to them. Pilots don’t automatically take what the fa says as fact nor do they always have their back.

          2. If you have and I’m mistaken, I apologize in advance.

            I recall a lengthly discussion in a flight blog at:

            upgrd dot com/matthew/profile/ (going back a ways, maybe a year)

            Matt had been removed from a flight because an FA asked him to not photograph his seat back for his blog and he complied and tried to explain to her he meant no harm. She then simply contacted the pilot and claimed he was refusing to stop taking photos and had him bumped out of first class and the flight.

            A pilot weighed in on the story and explained that when he needs to get the plane up in in the air quickly, and doesn’t want problems with the FA’s, he takes their word for it unless the passenger is quick talker, other passengers come to their aid, etc. That was his story and it made sense.

            Naturally, sometimes pilots won’t side with the FA’s at all times, etc. Like rental car companies being easy about scratches and dings and some not, there are always exceptions. 🙂

          3. I have but I remember the story. He was a travel blogger and was just getting pictures of the new class if I’m not mistaken. I didn’t agree with how the crew handled that but it is one story. They do feel a lot of pressure for on time operations but for the most part they want all of the facts. Kicking a pax off requires an investigation and the ca is responsible for the outcome of the findings and as much as it is important to get out on time they don’t want to be responsible and liable for throwing off someone unjustly because that’s on them. Most of the time crew is like family but at the same time I couldn’t have asked to have someone taken off just for being nasty to me or I didn’t like something that they are doing simply because I could I would have been laughed out of the cockpit. FA’s power tripping are well known amongst crew and the flight crew knows when to take the story with a grain of salt and they will delay a flight to gather facts or it can and has come back to bite them for just saying ok. Rarely would a captain come on and say they stood behind us irregardless of the situation. Maybe 1 in 100 are like that otherwise it’s unbiased. I hope that makes sense. Fa are informers not enforcers. They are not cops and can’t kick anyone off a flight. They can’t have anyone arrested either. All of the stories in the media whom is made aware of the incident most of the time by the person that was booted off are one sided stories. There’s always two sides and most of the time someone is removed because they can’t follow directions without becoming belligerent then they call chanel 8 hollering discrimination but the airline will investigate including contacting pax seated around the incident and if they issue a statement standing behind the crew it’s most likely your hearing a very dramatic exaggerated one sided partly fictional story.

          4. There’s a bit of psychology at play here too.

            I think the FA in that case may have been frazzled and having a bad day and when she asked Matt to put away his camera and he did so and later wanted to talk to her and “calm her down”, she took his niceness combined with (what she saw) as his presumption to dare to bring it up again as a provocation. He was daring to talk to her about it (and then mentioned the terrorism word, a huge provocation although not illegal especially if used in context), and simultaneously, was a nice guy and therefore _weak_ and someone she could get kicked off the flight.

            So her ugly side reared up.

            I’ve seen this before with other people. When normal people are under stress and if I’m nice to them and set them off, look out. They become beasts. I have altered my own behavior to reflect that being “nice” all the time is not necessarily the best way to get people to be nice. Sometimes backing off works and even tactful confrontation but that’s a long story. 🙂

            The captain was probably also having a bad day on that flight or in a rush and decided to just bump the guy.

            Myself, I don’t try to make life difficult for FA’s and will comply with their instructions and if I have a problem with them (never have), will take it up with the captain after the flight is over and then with the airline (and get names).

          5. You get what you give out for the most part I think so i hope you get the service you deserve. When I flew we (crew) where embarrassed by surly and power tripping fa’s some pilots would leave names of the offenders so that the other flight crew got a heads up. I don’t personally think that any cabin crew should have a hire date of the 40’s but hey that’s just me. Get some new excited blood in those aircraft! 🙂 happy flying and a bad day is no excuse to be rude to a customer I’m glad you always report it later they deserve to be called out to in flight! My dad flies a lot and he always tells me about bad attendants I’m like dad don’t be a boarding vigilante call and log a formal complaint later get the names and numbers the passenger’s around you and call them out for their bad behavior 🙂

    1. I do. Some legacy airlines really treat their VP’s nice. The senior ones get free first class travel FOR life even after retirement. Consider the value of THAT perk!

      An FA was fired after posting on his blog a complaint that a deadheading first class VP got a whole revenue paid row in first class bumped for his family to go to Hawaii.

      1. That airlines treat their VPs really well is not the part that’s hard to believe. It’s the pulling the plane over on the taxiway. There must be federal regulations that prevent that. Maybe the story happened 50 years ago. That would make it more believable.

        1. Nah I believe it all they would have to do is get someone with the proper sida clearance to escort him since he is an employee, sort anyway, escorting would still be able to take place even on the side of a taxiway

  10. Most annoying delay I’ve had on a flight? Supposedly everyone had boarded, we were taxiing out to the runway when we had to turn back to pick-up a dead-heading crewmember (and insult to injury was they had a seat in first class) They did board quickly, but we had to wait about 45 mins for another take-off slot.

    As much as I hate to admit it, I’m ready for the major airlines to start charging for carry on bags besides a single personal item. The airlines can preach all they want about cracking down and the 2 item limit, but the practice appears to differ greatly from theory. I would say on 3 of my last 4 flights we left late because of the last minute baggage scramble of people trying to find space and refusing to check bags.

  11. I have to wonder if gate checking all those bags hasn’t also created a problem. First, if you didn’t have to pay to check a bag, people would go back to checking bags. Secondly, the airlines need to enforce the bag size limits at check-in, not at the gate. And, third, if you had more people checking bags, you’d have less bags going through screening.

    1. How are airlines to enforce bag size limits at check in when most people check in online and don’t see an airline employee until they reach the gate? Eliminate online check in?

      1. I forget which airline it is.. They check your bag using a sizer at the gate. If it fits, you are fine. If it doesn’t fit, you pay the baggage fee plus penalty. I think that the scofflaws would self-correct with time and enforcement.

        1. Frontier measures every bag and also checks to see you paid the carry on fee before boarding starts. United has started measuring bags at the gate, but it is spotty. Others may have started doing the same.

          You still have people flying Frontier who will bring one bag to the counter to be measured but then try and sneak on an additional larger bag. The gate agents are not falling for it. 😉

  12. The late boarding family that caused the ruckus should’ve been escorted off the plane and forced to take a later flight. No excuse for that behavior when PAX were offering to switch but the daddy was picky.

    Sounds like the news from NYC this week…an El Al flight was disrupted by some crazy Hasidic Jews who refused to be seated next to women. Here’s a thought: get into the 21st century or charter the jet, guys.

    1. A much simpler, less snarky, solution is that they could have purchase additional seats to ensure an appropriate buffer

      1. Eh, I reserve the right to be snarky to any group that thinks the world should bend to their version of religious crazy.

        You wanna base your entire belief system on a 2000 year old book of poetry, be my guest. But, when you try to tell me that I’m going to hell for supporting gay marriage, I will laugh. (General you)

          1. If Raven goes to Hell, will he go DIRECTLY to Hell, not pass “GO” and not collect $200? Inquiring minds want to know!

    2. I agree with you, Raven, that the Hasidic men should have known the rules of the airline/flight before boarding. Their principles notwithstanding, it was a bad time and ill-advised way in which to take a stand.

      1. Agreed. The Hasidic men presumably know that they’re religious views are outside of the norm. Accordingly, they should be proactive in dealing with non-adherents.

        1. True! To deal with non-adherents, you should always wipe the surface first with either naptha or acetone, as appropriate…

  13. The number one delay? The Carry-on! The cause? Airline employees that allow the person onto the jetway with this oversized by 10 linear inches carry on in the first place. The same employee that yell to store, check, or throw away the luggage so we can be on time. Time to spare, go by air.

    1. one major problem is that many members of our management will NOT back us up when the passenger becomes belligerent after we tell them their carryon is too big for boarding, and then our bosses let them go. then we get written up for possibly causing a delay/scene/issue. so many gate agents are now operating under the “why bother?” philosophy, and can we really blame them?

  14. most people cannot get thru tsa (they cannot figure it out-what to do) then they try to board the plane if you are in row 42 do not stop at row 2 or 3 to look for your seat ..do not let your 2 year old carry his own bag on or off –they are too slow…try to remember where u put your 2 carryons in the overhead bins, pack ur stuff before ur row is exiting the plane, when u get to the door do not stop and talkon yur phone etc….last week it was a ??plane problem md-88 full and ready to go in denver but pilot said too heavy (instead of taking off luggage or people –atc opened up a larger runway(40 minutes later) and a long take -off but we got there….

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