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Annual Airline Achievement Report Released 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the better-than-terrible dept.
According to an annual report by Dean Headley, a business professor at Wichita State University, flying is getting slowly better. Lost bag reports, delayed flights, service complaints and cases of getting bumped from your flight were all slightly down in 2011. From the article: "Hawaiian Airlines did the best job of arriving on time with an average of 92.8 percent, while JetBlue Airways had the worst on-time performance, 73.3 percent. A flight is considered on time if it arrives within 15 minutes of when it was originally due. Nearly half the 15 airlines improved their on-time arrival performance in 2011, and seven had an on-time arrival percentage over 80 percent — Hawaiian, Southwest Airlines, AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Mesa Airlines. The average on-time performance for the industry was 80 percent last year, just a tad better than 2010's average of 79.8 percent."
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Annual Airline Achievement Report Released

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  • Games airlines play (Score:5, Informative)

    by Enuratique (993250) on Monday April 02, 2012 @12:17PM (#39549771)
    The flight time listed for ATL-> RIC when purchasing tickets is about 90 minutes, but the time from takeoff to touchdown is only 63 minutes. They've padded the flight time to account for issues at the airport so that they can more often meet this punctuality window. For example, my flight yesterday took off 11 minutes late, and still arrived 10 minutes early.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 02, 2012 @12:19PM (#39549801)

      How's that a "game"? Sounds like good planning.

      Don't you ever leave 10 minutes early to ensure you make an appointment on time? Is that also considered a "game"?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 02, 2012 @12:36PM (#39550023)

        Of course not. I'm married. We always leave for an appointment precisely when the appointment actually occurs. No matter how far away.

        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          Funny stereotypes aside, there are some men like that too. I have a buddy who really takes his time getting himself together. If we have to meet up at 4:00, we tell him to be ready by 2:00.

      • by xaxa (988988) on Monday April 02, 2012 @12:50PM (#39550233)

        How's that a "game"? Sounds like good planning.

        Don't you ever leave 10 minutes early to ensure you make an appointment on time? Is that also considered a "game"?

        Hmm... I think I'd rather that was my responsibility or risk.

        The first train I catch to visit my parents used to have a scheduled time of 72 minutes. There is only one intermediate stop. It used to arrive about a minute or two early, and very occasionally five minutes late -- generally if there was a big football match at the intermediate stop's town. Now, the time is supposedly 77 minutes. However, the train still arrives at the same time -- so it's normally 6-7 minutes early.

        Many people change trains at this station, and the journey planning software allows some time (5 minutes?) to do that. Previously, with a scheduled arrival of 18:00 it would recommend taking the 18:06 train to somewhere else. But, even though the first train still arrives at 17:59, the journey planner now recommends waiting for the next half-hourly train at 18:36. That makes the journey seem half an hour longer, which makes people less likely to use the train in the first place. If you actually do the journey, you get a pleasant surprise if you get there, realise there's another train leaving in a couple of minutes, and arrive 30 minutes earlier than you expected to.

        I wouldn't rely on making that close connection for a job interview, a wedding, or an unflexible flight. But I could easily rely on it for work, and I'd certainly take the risk for leisure trip.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        How's that a "game"? Sounds like good planning.

        Don't you ever leave 10 minutes early to ensure you make an appointment on time? Is that also considered a "game"?

        This, I've noticed airlines padding time for a while now... I used to think it was for statistical reasons (I.E. Look, we're 100% on time) but then I took one of my regular flights against a headwind. It really did take 1/2 an hour longer (on a 2 hour flight). Airlines plan for the worst of conditions and it is a good thing.

    • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Monday April 02, 2012 @12:29PM (#39549927)

      The flight time listed for ATL-> RIC when purchasing tickets is about 90 minutes, but the time from takeoff to touchdown is only 63 minutes.

      Do they list 'flight time' or 'travel time?' Usually it's the latter - Travel time. In this scenario, time spent on the tarmac taxiing should be factored into the equation.

      • by doston (2372830)

        The flight time listed for ATL-> RIC when purchasing tickets is about 90 minutes, but the time from takeoff to touchdown is only 63 minutes.

        Do they list 'flight time' or 'travel time?' Usually it's the latter - Travel time. In this scenario, time spent on the tarmac taxiing should be factored into the equation.

        Yeah time spent having your life shortened breathing up diesel exhaust, taxiing around the runway an average of 10-20 minutes, should definitely be factored into the equation.

        • Out side of fuel bowsers, very little on the tarmac burns diesel. You're also in a heavily filtered aluminum tube. The air is cleaner inside than out.

          On the plus side, once you're airborne, you get a higher dose of radiation, courtesy of the sun and a less effective magnetosphere.

      • by pz (113803)

        Absolutely correct. The arrival time is the time the airplane gets to the gate. This allows planning for appropriate amounts of time between flights for connecting itineraries. You can have what are called legal marriages between connecting flights, with sufficient time that passengers can be reasonably expected to get from one flight to the next, or illegal ones where there is insufficient time, where the threshold is determined based on which airport, which terminals are involved, whether it is interna

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      The flight time listed for ATL-> RIC when purchasing tickets is about 90 minutes, but the time from takeoff to touchdown is only 63 minutes. They've padded the flight time to account for issues at the airport so that they can more often meet this punctuality window. For example, my flight yesterday took off 11 minutes late, and still arrived 10 minutes early.

      Seems like good planning. The flight time (takeoff to touchdown) is 63 minutes. But the gate-to-gate time (what really matters to people) is far lon

    • They *need* to pad the time. For many years, airlines didn't have to report (or weren't affected by. I'm going totally apocryphal here so forgive the lack of citations) delays that were the fault of the airport / FAA. So, if a particular field could only handle 60 takeoffs per hour and they airline scheduled 75 (as was legal), those 15 flights that left "late" didn't get counted against on time performance, since it wasn't the airline that dictated how many aircraft could leave in a given window, it was the

      • Actually, no airlines operate 747's out of La Guardia; the 7000-foot runways are too short for normal commercial operation of 747's. I believe there have been circumstances where 747's have landed there due to weather or other issues.
        • Right, but you get the idea. Airlines would blame safety limits imposed by the FAA, when they had no intention of following the rule in the first place. It was a dodge.

    • by realsilly (186931)

      This is not a bad thing. It allows for people to schedule their own time more appropriately. I actually agree with this bit of logic for a few reasons. Airline passengers are forced to schedule their flights to get to their destinations, and for some that requires multiple flights or resources, so if the flight is a layover, an airlines has some wiggle room. As a passenger having some wiggle room is good too. Depending on the airport, you may miss a layover flight due to the congestion at that airport.

    • by Shagg (99693)

      Is that 63 minutes for one particular flight (that you were on)? I would assume the flight time between two airports could be different depending on weather, head/tail wind, etc.

    • by maglor_83 (856254)

      Nearly half the 15 airlines improved their on-time arrival performance in 2011

      That looks suspiciously like more than half were worse.

  • Hey (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by koan (80826)

    You forgot to mention the free anal probes at the security line.

    • Considering you're paying quite a bit on Airport fees, the least you can expect is for all compulsory invasive searches to be free.

      • by koan (80826)

        Would you be surprised if they announced charging for them?

        • Not at all, but let's not give them any ideas.

          "Sir, I require you to drop your pants and provide a credit card, otherwise you will not be allowed through security."

  • Criminals all. (Score:2, Insightful)

    This is all very nice, but when will the public stop being treated like criminals during air travel?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      When they've removed that pesky "the public" part of the problem of air travel. Duh.

  • Airlines that predominately do short flights (like Hawaiian does) would find it much easier to be on time than an airline that runs longer duration filghts.

    • Wouldn't it be the other way around? I imagine it's much easier to compensate for a 15 minute departure delay on a long flight, than it is on a short one.
      • by xaxa (988988)

        I was going to post something, but then I realised I didn't know what I was talking about.

        All that I'm confident about is:
        * It's probably more about airports
        * If I ran a mix of short and long-distance flights into busy airports, I'd think carefully about which gets priority to land (if possible) when there are delays.
        * If I ran an airport, with a mix of cheap and expensive airlines, I'd think about the same thing.

      • by blueg3 (192743)

        Well, I fly almost exclusively out of a small airport that makes only short flights (to neighboring large airports).

        For one, there are almost never small delays, because it's simply not that busy. When the plane is ready, everyone goes out to the plane, sits down, and it leaves. The only delays you really ever see are small delays because the plane didn't get in on time (because it was delayed at the big airport it came from) or catastrophic delays because of mechanical problems (which they're not equipped

    • Airlines that predominately do short flights (like Hawaiian does) would find it much easier to be on time than an airline that runs longer duration filghts.

      How so? Skywest flies mostly short routes and they had an on-time performance of 79.3%. The airport is where planes get delayed, not in between destinations. A 12 hour flight with the plane on auto-pilot would be a lot more predictable than dealing with an airport/passengers/bags >1 times in the same length of time.

    • Actually, I think Hawaiian has it a bit easier for a number of reasons. They actually fly LONGER flights, and so their aircraft are usually only slotted to fly one round-trip each day. Compare that to a flight that might visit four or more airports in a day, there's less chance for delays to creep in. Additionally, they largely fly on the west coast, out over the ocean, where there are less weather issues than, say, the eastern US with the higher traffic and higher chances of snow and thunderstorms.

      • Hawaiian has two distinct types of flights: The very short inter-island flights that max out around 40-45 minutes (Honolulu-Hilo), and the Trans-Pacific flights to the west coast (and soon New York) and international destinations that start at around 4.5 hours (Honolulu-San Francisco).

        The inter-island network has pretty high on-time reliability, but problems can have a big impact. With the number of flights an aircraft performs each day, a significant delay early in the morning can cause delays on several o

    • by boaworm (180781)

      The easiest way to fix the numbers is to do what Scandinavian (SAS) did. They went from one of the worst to the best in Europe by simply estimating their normal departure a bit later, was something like 20-30 minutes IIRC.

      To their defense, they were overly optimistic compared to other airlines before the change and are now more on-par with other european airlines. This just shows how statistics can be made to show roughly what you want, when you want it :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 02, 2012 @12:26PM (#39549887)

    Lost bags are down, not because the airlines are getting better (or the panty sniffers in TSA aren't stealing your junk) but because fewer people are checking bags because of stupidly high bag check fees.

    • by mr1911 (1942298)
      And "service complaints" are down because 1) airlines have set expectations so low that as long as you arrive alive you are thankful for the flight, and 2) after being mugged by the TSA the surly gate agent seems downright hospitable.
  • by characterZer0 (138196) on Monday April 02, 2012 @12:34PM (#39549995)

    considered on time if it arrives within 15 minutes of when it was originally due.

    I tried to explain this to my boss when he complained that I show up 14 minutes late every day.

    Seriously though, why do they not simply report X percent arrived within 15 minutes of due time?

  • Bah! All lies... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by doston (2372830) on Monday April 02, 2012 @12:40PM (#39550067)
    Flown lately? It sucks. It sucks so much that if you manage to get from one place to another without a *major* fiasco, you keep your mouth shut. Just because expectations have been lowered to the basement, doesn't mean things are getting better. More like passengers are just feeling more powerless and complaining less. As for on-time arrivals and all that...wow nice. Probably not as difficult, since they've gutted most routes to bare minimum and use sophisticated software to keep planes packed like sardines. Sorry, but air travel sucks and no report of marginal statistical improvement will change anybody's view on that.
    • by kiwimate (458274)

      Flown lately?

      Yep, lots. I feel pretty confident in stating I likely fly far more frequently than you.

      And I don't experience a "major fiasco" on any kind of a regular basis. Maybe I'm lucky, but I should be having a lot of problems to justify your comments. For reference, I'm flying out of PHL, one of the busiest airports in the U.S.

      • by doston (2372830)

        Flown lately?

        Yep, lots. I feel pretty confident in stating I likely fly far more frequently than you.

        And I don't experience a "major fiasco" on any kind of a regular basis. Maybe I'm lucky, but I should be having a lot of problems to justify your comments. For reference, I'm flying out of PHL, one of the busiest airports in the U.S.

        Glad you enjoy it. Most people think it sucks and has gotten worse over the years, not better. The fact that you fly more and don't hate it says more about the human ability to adapt to unpleasant situations than that flying doesn't blow. it blows, it blows more and more every year and you're nearly the only person I've ever heard, outside airline executives that doesn't agree. And if you want stats, here's a nice link http://articles.cnn.com/2011-06-21/travel/customer.satisfaction.airlines.hotels_1_pas [cnn.com]

        • by kiwimate (458274)

          I didn't say I enjoy it; I said I don't experience big problems on anything like the sort of regular basis you are suggesting most people do.

          The link you post is discussing factors that by and large don't apply to me - the vast majority of my flying is for business, so someone else books and pays for me, so I don't really care about the prices.

          I also don't pay bag fees - my trips are of short duration, so I always take a carry-on bag. However, that frequently has to be checked as the airplane is full. So I'

          • by doston (2372830)

            I didn't say I enjoy it; I said I don't experience big problems on anything like the sort of regular basis you are suggesting most people do.

            The link you post is discussing factors that by and large don't apply to me - the vast majority of my flying is for business, so someone else books and pays for me, so I don't really care about the prices.

            I also don't pay bag fees - my trips are of short duration, so I always take a carry-on bag. However, that frequently has to be checked as the airplane is full. So I'm at risk of lost baggage, but again I've been lucky and not had that problem.

            And BTW, I didn't "imply" most people experience "major" problems. if I was implying anything, it was that a LACK of "major problems" is behind any mediocre increase in satisfaction, not that the experience has somehow gotten better. So they don't completely screw up and lose your luggage..does that make it a good experience? No. It's just that the airline employess make it EVER so clear that they don't give a flying shit about you, that you'd not bother complaining and that's why complaints are down.

        • Most people think it sucks and has gotten worse over the years, not better

          That's because 'most people' are idiots with selective memories - Sure, security sucks and there is no free food, but people also forget that in the 'good old days' all the airfares were regulated. There was no shopping around for a good deal because all fares were exactly the same across all the airlines - And air travel was EXPENSIVE - Tickets today, on average, cost less than half of what they did in the 'good ol' days' (indexed

          • by doston (2372830)

            Most people think it sucks and has gotten worse over the years, not better

            That's because 'most people' are idiots with selective memories - Sure, security sucks and there is no free food, but people also forget that in the 'good old days' all the airfares were regulated. There was no shopping around for a good deal because all fares were exactly the same across all the airlines - And air travel was EXPENSIVE - Tickets today, on average, cost less than half of what they did in the 'good ol' days' (indexed to inflation.) If you want a good non-sucky experience, buy a business class ticket. You'll get a big chair, free food and all the perks, and still pay less than you would have back in the day.

            Yeah, I mentioned "people don't want to pay more than $300 RT and maybe that's the cause". Wasn't assigning blame. Got anything I don't already know?

    • Flown lately? It sucks

      Flown 40 years ago? It sucked. Airfares were hugely more expensive than they are today. Today, a family can easily fly to visit Grandma. A generation ago they would never have been able to afford it.

    • Flown lately?

      Yes.
       

      It sucks so much that if you manage to get from one place to another without a *major* fiasco, you keep your mouth shut.

      Translation: I not only don't have an argument, my mind is already made up and I'm not interested in hearing anything that fails to meet my preconceived notions.

      • by doston (2372830)

        Flown lately?

        Yes.

        It sucks so much that if you manage to get from one place to another without a *major* fiasco, you keep your mouth shut.

        Translation: I not only don't have an argument, my mind is already made up and I'm not interested in hearing anything that fails to meet my preconceived notions.

        Uh WRONG. Beacuse some industry rag did a "study" doesn't negate the experience of millions of users. The airline industry is 47th of 47 industries in customer satisfaction. That was the /. submission. I suppose they had nowhere to go but up from 47th, but forgive me if I'm one of the MAJORITY who says they suck. They fucking suck. Pile on all you want, but nearly every thinking person agrees they suck and the entire experience sucks. Yeah, I'm not listening to you schmucks because you're wrong and i

    • by chrismcb (983081)

      Flown lately? It sucks. It sucks so much that if you manage to get from one place to another without a *major* fiasco, you keep your mouth shut.

      Yes I've flown lately. I'm not quite a frequent flyer, but I do fly a lot. It doesn't suck. With a couple of exceptions almost EVERY delay I've had in the past few years has been due to weather. I did have a big issue on a small airline overseas. It had one flight a day, and apparently their plane had major mechanical issues. It was only after I told them I'd fly another airline, that they told me their plane could be out of commission for days.
      But I've rarely had a minor fiasco, let alone a major one.
      O

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This report looks at almost none of the statistics that I care about when flying. IDBs are rare enough that doubling or halving the rate doesn't matter to me, I've never been IDB'd. I rarely care if my flight is 15-20 minutes late getting to my final destination. The time to wait for checked bags, get a taxi, get through customs/immigration usually vary more than that anyways. I do get royally pissed off, though, if I have to make a connecting flight, and the later flight leaves on time when the earlier

  • I've noticed a lot of my recent flights arrive earlier than the airline predicts, even when we depart right on time. I've even had pilots tell me we are going to be early before we take off when we're slightly behind schedule. I guess I would like to see a graph of estimated flight times vs. time, and how often they are 'late' side by side, to see if the airlines are just erroneously padding predicted flight durations to get more people to their destinations 'on time.' These numbers just might mean JetB
    • by Shagg (99693)

      I've even had pilots tell me we are going to be early before we take off when we're slightly behind schedule.

      Probably based off of the pre-flight weather data. The pilot will know they're going to be flying with a tailwind before they take off, which means you're going to get to the destination faster than expected.

    • by boaworm (180781)

      It could be a bit more than that. From one day to the next, winds can change quite drastically and if you're flying with 100kt+ head vs tailwind that makes a lot of difference. Going intercontinental that can easily make more than an hour on the total flying time. Also things like for short hauls, with the right wind conditions your departure pattern may take you in the right direction whereas with "wrong" winds you will take off in the right direction losing a couple of minutes on departure and the same on

  • Fine as far as it goes, but doesn't account for other important factors like seat space, quality of service, etc.

  • What is down is the economy, and as a consequence also the number of people traveling by air. If there are fewer people competing for that slimmed down "service" wouldn't you think that the arilines might actually try harder to gain as many passengers as possible? They are not "doing better", rather just trying not to lose more business than they already have.
  • by mmmmbeer (107215) on Monday April 02, 2012 @01:16PM (#39550613)

    What achievement did they unlock?

  • How much did the near lack of winter weather for the end of 2011 across much of the US affect those on-time statistics? It's hard to praise someone for adequate performance when they did not suffer many challenges.
  • by neurocutie (677249) on Monday April 02, 2012 @01:37PM (#39550911)
    Its obvious that JetBlue's poor on-time performance can be tied directly to its hub being JFK, in the busiest, most congestion airspace in the country. Comparing it to Hawaiian Air for on-time performance is kinda silly. Even airlines with Chicago as a major hub (e.g. American, United), can dilute those bad performances with flights from other of their hubs, but not JetBlue whose only hub is JFK.

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