This isn’t Rocket Science or Brain Surgery.

This isn’t Rocket Science or Brain Surgery.

A good portion of my day is spent monitoring, Commercial Airline schedules. (ie. United, American, etc.) This is done via, my desktop computer at the house, and or, my Nextel i205 web enabled phone. I have occasion to check schedules 24/7, to ensure that I’m ontime to pick up one of our clients, be they early or late, and with or without their luggage. (That’s for another missive.)

Depending on the time of day and whether I’m at the house or out and about in one of the limo’s, I’ll check a particular airline’s schedule. This will be done at the house, via, the specific airline’s web site, our company web site’s airline schedule link or Flyteweb. While out and about I’m relagated to use the i205 and the Trip.com link provided by Nextel. Now, my knowledge of air travel, having flown since I was a mere lad, is as follows. Let say I want to fly from Denver to visit my friend Scott, in Aurora, IL. I’ll choose Frontier as I know it’s a direct flight from DIA to Midway Airport just south of downtown Chicago. And in order to keep the example simple, we won’t encounter any weather related issues or mechanical or baggage issues that would delay us. Now, the schedule will indicate that we’re due to leave DIA at (00:00) and arrive at Chicago Midway at (00:00). Then lets check Frontier’s website, Flyteweb.com and, on the phone, Trip.com. I’ll find as many different departure times and arrival times as I’ve checked web sites. Checking on the phone, throw’s another wrinkle into the mix. Nextel prior to 1700 MST, wants to know if I want to check the previous day’s flight schedule, today’s schedule or tomorrow’s schedule. In this day of instant information and the always on network, why in the world if I’m flying do I want to know about yesterday’s flights? Who are the beta testers and customer service folks who came up with this?

Now the schedule gives me a departure time and given the laws of physics and flight theory, the plane traveling at a set speed will, (remember our example and criteria above) arrive at a given time at Midway Airport. There is no guessing or anything open to interpretation. So why in the world are there such variances in arrival times and departure times? Are none of these services using the same set of information to give me the information that I require? Is there someone in saffron robes in a incense filled back room somewhere, with a cyrstal ball and chicken entrails and tea leaves, that is in charge of all of this. Please, what we want is some consistency. If you’re going to provide us with incorrect information, at least provide us with incorrect information all the time.

There has got to be some technology, off the shelf, currently that can correct this issue. Anyone…anyone…anyone.

And airports, let’s make sure that you update your departure and arrival tote boards in a timely manner. Nothig worse than 24 minutes after your arrival board shows that a particular flight is due to arrive on time, that you’re still showing that the flight is on-time.

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2 Responses to “This isn’t Rocket Science or Brain Surgery.”

  1. Fritz Says:

    Even without weather there are more variables than just drawing a straight line between Denver and Chicago to figure distance and flight time. Just like there’s congestion on the highways, there’s congestion at the departure airport, destination airport, and in the air especially at and near busy airports.

    Even if Midway itself isn’t that busy, the air traffic in that area is all controlled from one center and O’Hare has a big impact on who can leave and enter the airspace.

    In the air, there are minimum spacing requirements between aircraft. Traffic controllers tell the pilots to fly at various altitudes and headings and so forth.

    Airlines obviously maximize their profit the less time they spend in the air. A tremendous amount of money and effort is spent creating schedules so that the various airlines don’t “collide” in their schedules — in other words, they don’t want to send a plane in the air only to have it fly in circles waiting to land. The science of Operations Research was created to address this and related issues.

    (Two of my neighbors work at the Longmont FAA center, another neighbor is a pilot of United, and I have another longtime friends who’s an FAA controller and several other longtime friends who work for Delta and American Airlines).

  2. pswansen Says:

    I seem to remember a time when O’Hare controlled much of the cross country air traffic. If your plane was going to or through O’Hare, you didn’t leave your departure city until there was a gate availalbe for you at O’Hare. That in itself caused lots of delays. I know that effeciency is the airlines goals and they’re failing miserably. Maybe but for Southwest. While, yes there are a number of other factors that intrude on flight schedules, getting the travelling public accurate and up to date information, apparently isn’t high on the Airlines list of stuff to do.

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