by Jordi Lippe-McGraw
Why Flights Are Longer Now Than They Were Before
Did you know that a flight from New York City to Houston Texas is over an hour longer today than if you took the same flight in 1973? Now it takes about three hours and 50 minutes, but 43 years ago it would have taken 2 hours and 37 minutes. Why the big difference?
A few factors are at play here. First, the congestion on the ground and in the sky has caused delays, a result of an airport system that was largely designed 50 years ago, when the number of daily arrivals and departures was much smaller.
Second, “Surprisingly, flight time is calculated from when the aircraft releases the parking brake (on push back) to when it sets the brake on arrival to the gate,” says commercial pilot Zapata Mapua. “All that waiting in line during taxi and takeoff counts towards flight time.”
And Third, not surprisingly, saving money is another reason flights take longer today. “Airlines are able to save millions per year by flying slower,” reveals a video from Business Insider. “From 2002 to 2012, the price of fuel went up from $0.70 per gallon to over $3.” A 2008 Associate Press report revealed that JetBlue saved $13.6 million a year by flying slower adding just under two minutes to each flight.
Flights ultimately seem longer now mainly because of a practice called Block Padding. “Airlines live and breathe by their on-time and mishandled baggage rankings,” revealed Mapua. “As such, padding a scheduled flight time is a way to increase their percentage of on-time arrivals.” Therefore when you see your flight itinerary and it says that flying time is one hour fifteen minutes from Los Angeles to Las Vegas – the airlines are just padding into the flight time all expected airport or weather delays and slow fuel saving flying to get there; when in reality it just takes 37 minutes of actual flying time. Whether the airlines leave late or fly slow or end up in airport traffic to get to the terminal when landed; since they padded their flying time they always arrive “on time” and ultimately have the bragging/marketing rights to say so.
So when on your next flight the airlines say you are arriving early, you’re actually pulling in right on time.
“Do not go where the path leads, travel instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” @wbbrjp