On a recent trip, two of the four legs of my flight were delayed. My purpose for flying, in this instance, was for leisure, so while the delay was inconvenient, I did not have to make many adjustments to my schedule. As a fairly savvy traveler who rarely gets upset about travel difficulties, I found myself observing the reactions of the other passengers on the aircraft to see who was affected and how.
The majority of delays occur for the safety of the passenger (ie. weather or mechanical), however in the height of a frustrating situation, one might feel that they are the only person who is late, uncomfortable, and tired. But in reality, we are all affected by delays and schedule changes. Here is how:
1) The Airport
One delayed flight will result in dozens of gate changes and schedule alterations due to runway capacity restrictions. This is very similar to when your doctor runs late on their first appointment of the day causing them to run late on every appointment for the rest of the day–only on a much larger scale.
2) The Airline
Studies have shown that airlines with higher delay percentages have higher operating costs. Not only are they compensating passengers should they be at fault for the delay, but they are also having to pay their flight crew and gate agents for extra time, as well as any extra fuel and necessary maintenance. In the instance of longer delays and cancellations, there is always a percentage of travelers who make other arrangements, resulting in a less than full flight. Additionally, there is the cost of the food and beverages consumed on-board should the delay occur after the plane is already boarded.
3) The Flight Crew
As much as you want to get to your destination, remember that your flight crew also wants to get to theirs. Before you yell at your pilot or flight attendant for your discomfort, keep in mind that they might be on their last flight of the day and the delay is causing them to be late for something important as well. Delays result in cranky passengers, whom the flight crew now has to deal with.
4) The Passenger
Aside from the frustration of waiting for the resolution of a situation that is out of your control, the passenger’s biggest loss is time. Meetings get cancelled, dinners get missed, client presentations get called off, and tensions rise. Not to mention that extra snack or best seller you are going to buy to help you pass the time while you are waiting.
So next time your flight is delayed, try to keep in mind that there are many factors at play and a lot of people affected. A little patience can go a long way. The attached graphic details airline on-time performance for the entire country for 2014 as reported by the US Department of Transportation. Click here for more information.