05 December 2007

The Year of the Flight Delay

I'd been meaning to write something about this for so long, I just keep forgetting. Thankfully, I just read something on 1010 WINS which reminded me of it.

A few years ago while working as a producer for a radio show here in New York we were doing a segment on workplace sabotage. People were calling up about spitting in peoples food or whatever; dumb shit like that. But then a guy called saying he was from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).

The dude didn't wanna be identified and so I put him up as "Anonymous". Usually when someone called asking to be kept anonymous, it meant they had something real good to say. So good, they had to hide their identity.

So the hosts took the call and the dude basically went on to say that NATCA workers were pissed at the FAA (The Federal Aviation Administration) over some sort of labour dispute about benefits or their pension or working sans contract or whatever it was; unfortunately, I cannot recall exactly.

However, what I do recall is "Anonymous" basically saying, not in so many words, that air traffic controllers in our area were not above fucking things up on purpose and making life miserable for you and I, the traveler, in order to flex their muscles to the FAA.

"Anonymous" said the air traffic controllers run the show and they weren't above letting everyone know.

And in the years since that cryptic anonymous caveat, what have we seen? All the major hubs shitting the bed, but most notably the ones in our area.

The Department of Transportation reports that only 72% of domestic flights by the USA's 20 largest airlines arrived on-time this year.

Only 40% of the delays were weather-related. Other factors included late-arriving aircraft, maintenance and crew problems, and coordination of flights at airports. These were all things "Anonymous" mentioned in his phone call a few years ago.

From the three airports run by the Port of Authority of New York & New Jersey — Newark Liberty, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy — to Chicago O'Hare, Philly and Charlotte — all reported awful on-time records with Newark, LaGuardia and JFK reporting the three worst on-time records of ALL the major U.S. airports!

Flight delays worst in 13 years {USA TODAY}

Holding Pattern: Flight Delays are Going Up, Up, Up {NPR}

Delays, lost luggage, complaints soar for US airlines {Sydney Morning Herald}

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