On August 21st, there was another flight left on the tarmac for 6 hours. The last flight delayed that made headlines was on August 8. That's 2 plane loads of passengers forced to stay on plane for an unreasonable amount of time. It probably sucked big time on those planes, especially with crying kids and little food.
I've spent a few extra hours on planes over the years. One plane had a bad NAV computer so we sat around for an hour while they fixed it. The fix didn't work so we were all unloaded. By the time we all got processed through customs and back to the gate, we ended up back on the same plane. This took about 4-5 hours, total. Not a big deal for me because I wasn't in a hurry. The plane I took back from Vegas lately was delayed for about an hour because a connecting flight was delayed. The airline decided to hold up our plane until those dozen people arrived. Also, not a big deal for me. I come prepared. My essential airline survival kit includes a one pound bag of peanut M&Ms, a big bag of beef jerky, magazines or a book and a fully charged iPod.
Are these latest planes delays a big deal? For the people on those planes, I'd say yes. Legislators seem to think so. There are demands to hold airlines accountable. There is talk of new laws to protect us from these inconveniences. Do we need Congress to intervene and create some new laws on this? I say no.
According to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association:
On any given day, more than 87,000 flights are in the skies in the United States. Only one-third are commercial carriers, like American, United or Southwest. On an average day, air traffic controllers handle 28,537 commercial flights (major and regional airlines), 27,178 general aviation flights (private planes), 24,548 air taxi flights (planes for hire), 5,260 military flights and 2,148 air cargo flights (Federal Express, UPS, etc.). At any given moment, roughly 5,000 planes are in the skies above the United States. In one year, controllers handle an average of 64 million takeoffs and landings.It seems to me that a few unreasonable delays and stupid mistakes are inevitable. If August 8th was an average day, then almost 30,000 commercial flights took place that day. One trapped passengers on the tarmac for about 6 hours. That's 1 in almost 30,000 or .0033% of the flights. If every day is an average day and the next terribly unreasonable delay was on August 21st, that means there were 2 of these incidents within a span of 14 days. If all 14 days were average days, then about 420,000 flights took place with two of those flights delayed or stopped on the tarmac for an unreasonable amount of time. 2 in 420,000 or .00048%.
With all the more important things going on in this country like the WAR, the economy, health insurance, and deficits to name a few, is it reasonable to have our legislators drop everything and begin work on this "problem?" I think not. Leave the airlines alone. Fix more important things.
Finally, if you insist on complaining about how terrible air travel is feel free to hop in your car, get on a train or ride a horse to get where you want to go. See how convenient that is...