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Posted by
4041 posts

Everyone knows there is slack in airline timetables.

It’s the same in the UK with train times. My daily journey into London takes nearly 10 minutes longer than it did 15 years ago and it stops at exactly the same intermediate stations.

Anyone who travels has to accept that they are contributing to global pollution. What they do to offset this is up to the individual - owt or nowt as they say here.

Posted by
1571 posts

From an intensely selfish perspective and for post-arrival planning, I would much rather have a padded arrival time and the increased likelihood of then arriving "on time." I feel much happier managing an "early arrival" than a late one, even with contingency plans for the latter.

Posted by
6454 posts

owt or nowt as they say here.

Is there a US English translation?

Posted by
6454 posts

It’s the same in the UK with train times. My daily journey into London takes nearly 10 minutes longer than it did 15 years ago and it stops at exactly the same intermediate stations.

I suspect there are more people using the train now than 15 yrs ago. Seems perfectly reasonable that the train has to sit at each station a bit longer to accommodate more people getting on/off.

As for 'schedule padding', I concur that publishing a schedule that reflects the reality ( not the ideal) situation is the more useful way to do things.

As for increased pollution because the planes are flying longer, I have some doubt if that is true. A car traveling at 50mph gets better mileage than one going 80mph and I suspect the same is true with aircraft. A plane flying at its ideal cruise speed is likely to burn less fuel than one cruising at its max cruise speed.

If there is someone with a technical background in aircraft performance who finds my suppositions incorrect, I would welcome the correction/education

Posted by
588 posts

Owt = anything, nowt = nothing.

Everyday speak in Yorkshire, but I’m aghast/delighted that it is common parlance in Tunbridge Wells! The other one in use up here in the north is neither ‘nowt nor summat’, which I’m sure you can figure out for yourself!

Ian

Posted by
8715 posts

There is a lot of information left out and I have to wonder if the consultants interviewed don't have an agenda against airlines.

Passengers want to arrive on time. We don't like to be late. So airlines make the flight times longer. But it isn't necessarily their fault.

Consider this:

--Compared to the 1960's the number of flights has grown exponentially.

--Separation between aircraft has not gotten any closer and in fact there needs to be more separation with larger "jumbo" planes. With more planes, and larger aircraft, the only way to lessen this is to have less flights or more runways.

--today's aircraft and engines are designed to be more fuel efficient at higher altitudes. It takes longer to ascend and descend to those altitudes.

--todays engines cause much less pollution than the engines used in the 1960's.

-- there are certain times that are popular with passengers regarding departures. When all the airlines want to go at the same time, it causes delays. To keep "on schedule" extra time is added to the printed schedule.

You can't just blame the airlines. It really is a combination of things that are causing flights to be longer. Whether or not it is actually causing more pollution than in the 1960's is questionable. Just because a flight is longer doesn't mean it is causing more pollution.

Posted by
1268 posts

As for increased pollution because the planes are flying longer, I
have some doubt if that is true. A car traveling at 50mph gets better
mileage than one going 80mph and I suspect the same is true with
aircraft.

A piston engine and a jet engine work in very different ways, and a jet engine actually get more efficient the faster you travel. As long as you stay subsonic at least, when you approach the speed of sound the aerodynamics get a lot more complicated.

Posted by
8715 posts

Look at the difference in fuel consumption.

747-100 burned about 25,000 lbs of fuel an hour.

747-400 burns about 22,500 lbs of fuel an hour

787-900 burns about 11,000 lbs of fuel an hour.

So, the newer twin engine airplanes are burning half as much fuel as the original "jumbo" jets 50 years ago.

Of course, the numbers are just average as the slower and lower the plane flies, the more fuel it uses.

And....the first electric powered airliner--albeit only nine seats and only very short haul--is awaiting FAA approval. It it is approved, Cape Air plans to start flying them in 2020.

Posted by
1268 posts

Look at the difference in fuel consumption. 747-100 burned about
25,000 lbs of fuel an hour. 747-400 burns about 22,500 lbs of fuel an
hour 787-900 burns about 11,000 lbs of fuel an hour. So, the newer
twin engine airplanes are burning half as much fuel as the original
"jumbo" jets 50 years ago.

True, airliners get more efficient and the fewer engines the better for fuel consumption. But, it is not entirely fair to compare a 254 ton 787 to a 397 ton 747.

Posted by
6454 posts

Need a math whiz check my quick calculation of a per seat per hour fuel burn.
345 seats in 747 and 220 in a 787-9 ( rounded numbers)
I get 62 per seat in the 747 and 50 per seat in 787-9 (using fuel burn numbers in prior post)

Posted by
4282 posts

A lot of this is over my head (so to speak). I have to take off my shoes to count above ten. But I'd much rather deal with schedules that assume not everything will go perfectly than have inevitable delays result in missed connections or races through airports. Often connection times are unrealistically short anyway -- how many posts do we see here about allowing more time than the airline offers at a big hub? This problem would get worse if flight times were "optimized" in schedules.

Sure, some of it is psychological. I love arriving "early." If it's so early that no gate's available, I blame the other airlines or the airport or somebody else. Sure, they're messing with my mind. What vendor isn't? ;-)

Posted by
774 posts

Although they are a different beast than the airlines that make intercontinental flights, Spirit Airlines offers a great look at the effects of schedule padding v. cost/shareholder satisfaction v. customer satisfaction. They started out with really tight schedules, got tired of being called "the worst airline in America" and decided to, among other things, start padding their schedules a few years back. This, of course, cost money (fewer flights/plane/day.) They also took some other steps to improve reliability, like having more reserve pilots on hand, which also increased costs. Then earlier this year they tired of spending the extra money, so eased off on these steps, only to see costs increase for customers who missed flights. Time will tell where the pendulum finally lands with them.

As a customer, padding is fine by me, as on average it makes connections more reliable.

Posted by
8715 posts

Okay...a Boeing 777-300 burns about 17,000 pounds of fuel per hour and has between 301 and 368 seats. It still burns a lot less than the older 747 even though the 777 are not exactly new.

The triple seven weight about 345,000 lbs empty showing that similar seat capacity planes are getting lighter thus requiring less fuel.

Posted by
2044 posts

“By padding, airlines are gaming the system to fool you.”
-- [Captain] Michael Baiada

That's a curious quote, isn't it? The airlines are trying to fool you by timing flights with some wiggle room instead of according to the best case scenario? That's quite an emotionally charged word to use.

Why would Captain Baiada use such a word? The article mentions that Captain Baiada is the president of an airline consultancy group. Googling the group reveals that it has a product to sell airlines to improve their operational efficiency. Ohhhh... so article author Kathryn Creedy is passing off a guy as an objective source who actually has a financial interest in talking up airline operational inefficiency.

Posted by
1217 posts

ATL ATC tends to issue a lot of 'hold at origin' orders for short and very short haul flights during peak airport use hours. So you're either hooked into the origin airport's power system to run the CH&A system and such or sitting on the apron with the APU (auxiliary power unit) running at a wee fraction of the fuel burn you get when you have an aircraft in a holding pattern in the sky.

Areas with cold winters are also stuck trying to set a schedule that accommodates de-icing and anti-icing during that season with the knowledge that a lot of time they will not need the de-icing time. While that's typically an issue on the shoulder season for winter, our Christmas day flight from GRR to ATL got in 20+ minutes early because it was a freakishly warm holiday and you don't need to apply the sacrificial cow's blood (what de-icing fluid reminds me of) when the air temperature is 56F and the wings and fuselage are dry.

Posted by
2044 posts

Towards selkie's point, my Dec 26 LEX (Lexington, KY) to ATL flight with a 7:15 departure time had a 100-minute block time (gate to gate time) for a 50-minute "wheels up to wheels down" flight. We boarded and pushed back on time, but Atlanta ATC held us on the ground at LEX for 30 minutes due to congestion in the flight corridor. We arrived at the Atlanta gate 2 minutes early. Back in the days when block times were planned for best-case scenario, I was nearly always late on morning flights into ATL.

Posted by
11138 posts

By "padding" airlines have given me more confidence in making connections .... thank you airlines.

Posted by
1268 posts

Okay...a Boeing 777-300 burns about 17,000 pounds of fuel per hour and
has between 301 and 368 seats. It still burns a lot less than the
older 747 even though the 777 are not exactly new.

A 352 ton 777 is a lot closer to a 747, but I assume some of that improved fuel comsumption is due to two engines instead of four. Which is a result of ETOPS rules allowing twin engined airlines to fly further from airports.

If we look at more similiar aircraft we can find some interesting facts:

  • Boeing 737-100 — 2500 kg/h
  • Boeing 737-200 — 2600 kg/h
  • Boeing 737-300 — 2400 kg/h
  • Boeing 737-400 — 2600 kg/h
  • Boeing 737-500 — 2300 kg/h
  • Boeing 737-600 — 2200 kg/h
  • Boeing 737-700 — 2230 kg/h
  • Boeing 737-800 - 2500 kg/h
  • Boeing 737-900 - 2650 kg/h

A 737-100 from 1965 uses as much fuel as a 737-800 from 1993, but the 737-800 is a much larger aircraft. 79 t instead of 50 t and seats around 70 more passengers.

The A320 however was improved a lot when the neo (same size as the ceo) was launched.

  • Airbus A320ceo — 2500 kg/h
  • Airbus A320neo - 2100 kg/h
Posted by
17725 posts

A car traveling at 50mph gets better mileage than one going 80mph and I suspect the same is true with aircraft.

In 1989, I was on a 747 from Zürich to Chicago, and over Europe he was flying at close to Mach 1, then slowed down over the Atlantic. I mentioned it to a 747 captain I knew and said I thought he was trying to get out of crowded air space as quickly as possible. The captain explained to me that when fully loaded and heavy, a plane is more efficient at higher speeds because it can generate lift from the speed rather than from angle of attack, thus reducing drag.

Posted by
774 posts

A 737-100 from 1965 uses as much fuel as a 737-800 from 1993, but the 737-800 is a much larger aircraft. 79 t instead of 50 t and seats around 70 more passengers.

The A320 however was improved a lot when the neo (same size as the ceo) was launched.

Airbus A320ceo — 2500 kg/h

Airbus A320neo - 2100 kg/h

Not to wade too deeply into the whole MAX situation, but this is one very large reason Boeing was in such a hurry to deliver the 737MAX to their customers--they needed a quick response to the Airbus neo fuel usage numbers. They did succeed in making the MAX more fuel efficient and getting it to market quickly, but...

Posted by
3144 posts

Padding flight time makes sense for airlines because they have no control over taxi time on departure, gate availability on arrival as well as headwinds/tailwinds.

Posted by
587 posts

Perhaps regrettably, airlines are in the business of making money moving people, not being environmentally sensitive.

The padding increases only your expected "travel time" (expected departure vs expected arrival). If the flight takes the same time in the air there is NO environmental difference. Actual longer flight (in the air) times do increase fuel consumption per passenger mile, but much/most of that can be attributed to weather delays either on your flight, or on someone else's flight that needs to land ahead of you (available landing slots at your destination).

Considering the number of flights handled per day across the US, and the weather variability across the lower 48, I remain amazed that the ballet of the antiquated traffic control system works as well as it does, rain, snow, or shine 365 days a year.

It sounds good to say airlines (Number X) and traffic control (Number Y traffic control centers) should modify flights cooperatively in flight, but that would significantly INCREASE the stress on the system.... and I am not sure I want to take a chance on a "hacker" dressed up as a small airline to have avenue into the air traffic control system. (I used to work in thinking bad thoughts on good days).

If you want an excellent play on the hazards of travel - Go see "Come From Away." It is the story of how Gander Newfoundland handled the unexpected arrival of 39 North America bound jumbo jets from Europe that were denied entry into US airspace on 9/11....

Posted by
11138 posts

Perhaps regrettably, airlines are in the business of making money
moving people, not being environmentally sensitive.

Which is why the government should run the airlines.

Posted by
6454 posts

Which is why the government should run the airlines.

The entity that pays $500 for a screwdriver or $1k+ for a toilet seat, is what you want running the airlines?

I suspect most folks that experienced gas rationing in the 70's will not look kindly on that idea.

The common sense argument is that by default the airlines want operations that have the effect of polluting less vs more. Fuel is a huge cost for an airline, so the less they have to use the happier they are.

Perhaps not as altruistic as an environmentalist, but greed is a a great motivator

Posted by
1217 posts

If the government ran the airlines, it would cost $5K for a simple JFK-LHR coach ticket. While deregulation isn't always the answer in every field, the free market does do a good job of driving down costs for consumers and maximizing route efficiency, even as mergers have left behind a Big Four for US domestic routes.

Gander was designed to handle lots of long haul traffic- back in the day it was the refueling stop for transatlantic routes and its International Departures Lounge is well regarded for both its Golden Age of Air Travel connection and well-preserved mid-century modern design.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/gander-international-airport-lounge

Gander's ATC center also handles all eastbound traffic on the North Atlantic Organized Tracks System:

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/north-atlantic-tracks/index.html

So it's a small station that has long punched higher than its weight because it's in a very excellent location.

/aviation geek

Posted by
11138 posts

selkie, how is it the govt can do healthcare so well, but not airlines?

Posted by
11138 posts

See I didn't know Air Canada was still government owned. And the Canadian health system is only second to the Cuban system. Proof that the more we entrust to the government the better society is.

Posted by
1217 posts

Without getting into a huge sidetrack not really relevant to travel, I'll say that there are things where a well-regulated free market allocates goods and resources well (air travel, car production, clothing sales, hotel operation, etc) and sectors like health care where there are so many externalities and disconnects between areas of greatest possible profit and greatest possible need that free market allocation tends to result in poor outcomes.

Posted by
1160 posts

"Proof that the more we entrust to the government the better society is."

I suspect that was another of Mr E's ill-advised attempts at irony. Nevertheless, he isn't far wrong.

According to Skytrax, the 2019 best airline in the world is Qatar Airways. Which, indeed, is government owned.

And according to the Commonwealth Fund's 2017 study of 11 developed countries' health systems, the top ten all had significantly socialised systems. Guess which one came eleventh!

https://www.worldairlineawards.com/worlds-top-10-airlines-2019/

https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/fund-reports/2017/jul/mirror-mirror-2017-international-comparison-reflects-flaws-and

Posted by
11138 posts

Nick, we could have a long and forum inappropriate conversation on healthcare. And interestingly we might not 100% disagree.

BUT, to stay out of trouble with the webmaster let me bring it back to "TRAVEL".

Unless one travels for nothing more than hedonistic pleasure (something I was guilty of in my younger years) then one of the wonders of getting out and around is being able to see the results of the choices other cultures have made. But even to do that one must remain very open minded and put aside preconceived notions. The UK is a good example. Lets say for the sake of argument that while n the UK one was amazed at the quality of health care (maybe through conversations with Crown Subjects). Excellent, at least one noticed it. Did one also notice that the average home in the UK is 750 square feet? STOP, that's not bad. From a Green perspective its brilliant. Inspired by my living experiences in Hungary, my soon to be new U.S. home isn't much larger.

And the health care and the housing are two of what? 1 million facets of life, each weighed differently by each society and hopefully, in a free, or relatively free, society representative of the best possible balance representing the values of that society. Everyone should go out, open their eyes, ask questions and try and find understandings.... There is a lot to learn, but one also has to remember that you cant grab the best of every place and expect it to work; as everything comes at some sort of cost. But its not a bad goal to try and find ways....

Oh and Qatar Airways. When you have near unlimited wealth you can move mountains. But we all know that once the US and other countries pass their Green Initiatives that in 5 or 6 years we will be sending Qatar foreign aid. Okay, that was Sarcasm.

Posted by
31056 posts

"See I didn't know Air Canada was still government owned. "

It's not. Air Canada became fully privatized in 1989.

Posted by
1217 posts

Skytrax is rather pay-to-play to the point where I'm highly skeptical of their ratings. Qatar also has its weaknesses in terms of IRROPS recovery- the stories I've heard about that arr enough to keep me away from the airline even if I was okay with their labor practices.

Posted by
338 posts

Skytrax is rather pay-to-play to the point where...

Which air travel review and ranking sites are not pay-to-play nowadays? OAG? Cirium? FAA :-) ?

Posted by
587 posts

I did not mean to start a discussion on government vs non-government, it was just an observation on why anyone does anything. I apologize.

The point was that on there original post there was a proposed correlation between allocated travel times by airlines (padding of departure times and arrival times to prevent statistics of late" arrivals issue) and global pollution. As long as the in the air time is similar (within weather constraints) the way airline schedule/market flights is neutral with respect to pollution. But, to save money, they are clearly making technology improvements that also benefit travelers.

Posted by
11138 posts

NickB, I'm an old fart and can remember my first flight in November of 1962; from my perspective at least, flying has gotten a heck of a lot better, especially in the last 10 years.

But like all the rating systems, at best my opinion is subjective and carries my biases.

Posted by
17725 posts

Skytrax is rather pay-to-play to the point where I'm highly skeptical of their ratings.

Looking at their comparative ratings for Lufthansa and United, I would have to rate them "spot on". My last six flights (3 RT) have been 5 Lufthansa and 1 United. All five of the Lufthansa flights met or exceeded expectations. I was so disappointed in the United flight I decided never to fly them again if I have a choice.

Posted by
17725 posts

... can remember my first flight in November of 1962; from my perspective
at least, flying has gotten a heck of a lot better

You've got to be kidding! Coincidentally, my first commercial flight was also in 1962 (December), and I've flown a lot since then. Last summer, I flew 1st class, and that flight was no better than my first coach flight in '62. Back then, seats were bigger and farther apart, food service was good (not just existent), and luggage was free. We have to fly first class today, and spend more money, to get what we took for granted in coach 50 years ago.