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40 things your airplane pilot won't tell you

franktravel
Rising Star

From an article "40 things your airplane pilot won't tell you"  https://bit.ly/2zA3hBp

 

"Being on time is more important then getting everyone there"

 

"The Department of Transportation has put such an emphasis on on-time performance that we pretty much aren't allowed to delay a flight anymore, even if there are 20 people on a connecting flight  that's coming in just a little late.—Commercial pilot, Charlotte, North Carolina"

8 REPLIES 8

Re: 40 things your airplane pilot won't tell you

dfwskier
Rising Star

@franktravel wrote:

From an article "40 things your airplane pilot won't tell you"  https://bit.ly/2zA3hBp

 

"Being on time is more important then getting everyone there"

 

"The Department of Transportation has put such an emphasis on on-time performance that we pretty much aren't allowed to delay a flight anymore, even if there are 20 people on a connecting flight  that's coming in just a little late.—Commercial pilot, Charlotte, North Carolina"


"Commercial pilot, Charlotte, North Carolina"  Well apparently this American airlines (aka USAirways) pilot thinks that, but I've been on lots of flights where the pilot announced that the reason we were  being delayed and were still sitting at the gate was to wait for connecting passengers..

 

Also, remember that your own flight might have passengers that need to connect. So if the pilot delays too much, then the passengers on your flight might miss their connections.

Re: 40 things your airplane pilot won't tell you

DancingDavidE
Top Contributor

@dfwskier wrote:

@franktravel wrote:

From an article "40 things your airplane pilot won't tell you"  https://bit.ly/2zA3hBp

 

"Being on time is more important then getting everyone there"

 

"The Department of Transportation has put such an emphasis on on-time performance that we pretty much aren't allowed to delay a flight anymore, even if there are 20 people on a connecting flight  that's coming in just a little late.—Commercial pilot, Charlotte, North Carolina"


"Commercial pilot, Charlotte, North Carolina"  Well apparently this American airlines (aka USAirways) pilot thinks that, but I've been on lots of flights where the pilot announced that the reason we were  being delayed and were still sitting at the gate was to wait for connecting passengers..

 

Also, remember that your own flight might have passengers that need to connect. So if the pilot delays too much, then the passengers on your flight might miss their connections.


I'm more of the opinion that it is an optimization game, the situation would be looked at in terms of impiact of a delayed departure, ability of the connecting passengers to catch a later flight, ability to make up time en-route, impact of a delayed arrival, positioning of the plane, etc.

 

So with a preference to be on time, try to minimize the total impact to passengers.

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.
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Re: 40 things your airplane pilot won't tell you

TheMiddleSeat
Rising Star

I've had numerous delays in Denver when it was the last flight of the day to a particular city and connecting passengers were late arriving in Denver. Stranding passengers overnight is definitely not a good idea, but if a later flight had been available I'm sure we would have left on time. "Hub" cities with a lot of connections probably get the most delays because of this. I also like to think Southwest puts customer satisfaction ahead of strictly adhering to on time stats, but I know that's not always the case.

 

--TheMiddleSeat

Re: 40 things your airplane pilot won't tell you

rtbarron
Active Member

Decisions to delay for connecting passengers are made on a flight by flight basis, most often by the Operations Manager at the airport. Unless there are a large number of connecting passengers (a relative number but seldom lower than 20), flights are not held. There are exceptions of course (we once held a flight because the President of Ireland was connecting...yes, he was flying commercial on diplomatic business).

Holding for connecting passengers was rarely done even before the DOT started reporting on-time performance because if a flight was delayed, especially a morning flight, it lead to cascading delays for the rest of the day.

Whether or not a pilot is allowed to delay a flight isn't even questioned. A pilot can and will delay a flight for whatever reason they choose, usually for safety reasons. They have the final authority and usually have an iron-clad contract to back them up.

Re: 40 things your airplane pilot won't tell you

DancingDavidE
Top Contributor

Maybe some relative context is helpful. I've been on flights where everyone was boarded except a couple of people traveling together - the door could have been closed, but the crew waited more like 5 minutes or maybe 10 - practically nothing and often made-up in flight.

 

Holding a flight for more than 15 minutes would be a much bigger deal, and I appreciate @rtbarron's perspective on that one, that on the order of 20 people might be connecting then maybe hold the flight, especially if it is late in the day.

 

Eample from MDW - sometimes the gates are all full. So even holding ten minutes when a flight is arriving might not be long enough if it takes that much or longer to get in a gate, even if the connecting passengers were on the ground, but not yet in the terminal.

 

Anyway - I didn't mean to suggest that I think this happens very often, or for very long durations of a delay, but I think it could be a factor for large groups connecting or last flight of the day situations.

 

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.

Re: 40 things your airplane pilot won't tell you

rtbarron
Active Member

@DancingDavidE wrote:

I didn't mean to suggest that I think this happens very often, or for very long durations of a delay, but I think it could be a factor for large groups connecting or last flight of the day situations.

 

 

 


I didn't think you meant that either. I was just offering my experience to add to the conversation, not trying to contradict any other posters. I should have been more clear and am sorry for the misunderstanding.

It's also worth noting that a 5 or 10 minute delay for connecting passengers isn't usually a big deal since the DOT reports on-time arrivals, not departures. As long as the flight makes up the departure delay enroute, all is good.

Re: 40 things your airplane pilot won't tell you

elijahbrantley
Rising Star

I’ve been reading lots from travel bloggers about OTHER airlines’ OTP being such a focus that the customer experience suffers, but there are indeed so many factors at play. 

 

My my personal experience is that SW once held a flight for just me so that I didn’t misconnect. They welcomed me onboard by name. (Worst boarding position I ever had LOL.) It saved my work week, and it made me more patient when they hold planes for people connecting. 

-A List Preferred, Companion Pass holder, Community Champion.

Re: 40 things your airplane pilot won't tell you

dfwskier
Rising Star

Ironcally, I was on the 7 pm Midway/Love field flight last night. We delayed so that a connecting passenger could board -- and then waited a bit longer for that passenger's luggage to make it to our plane.

 

Of course, no one connects in Dallas at 9:15 pm so our delay wasn't going to cost anyone  a connection, although our plane was to turn around and fly back to Chicago. So it also was delayed.

No one connets in Chicago after midnight either. So the delays affected no connections, which is why Southwest allowed the delays. The delays only affected the airliine's on time stats.

 

We were 20 minutes late. No big deal.