9 votes

Why airlines make flights longer on purpose

14 comments

  1. [7]
    dubteedub
    Link
    I think it is pretty well known that there is a ton of padding added into flights. I have gone between DC and Boston plenty over the last few years and the actual flight usually only takes an...

    I think it is pretty well known that there is a ton of padding added into flights. I have gone between DC and Boston plenty over the last few years and the actual flight usually only takes an hour, but the listed flight time is usually an hour and a half. Most of that extra time seems to be just milling around on the tarmac before takeoff.

    I never really thought about the environmental impact that padding adds though and liked that the article mentioned it.

    He says if instead airlines tackled operational issues, customers would directly benefit. “Padding drives higher costs in fuel burn, noise and CO2 which means if airline efficiency goes up, costs go down, benefitting both the environment and fares.”

    7 votes
    1. [4]
      Nitta
      Link Parent
      I saw a while ago a project of a built in electric motor for the front wheel for taxiing. That would be great to implement worldwide. Then the planes would use just that small engine in the very...

      I saw a while ago a project of a built in electric motor for the front wheel for taxiing. That would be great to implement worldwide. Then the planes would use just that small engine in the very back to power the generator, with the main engines off, saving lots of fuel.

      5 votes
      1. [3]
        cptcobalt
        Link Parent
        This doesn't pass a scan test for me. If it was more economical (fuel) for airliners to be propelled by something other than the jet engines while on the ground, we'd probably have seen some...

        This doesn't pass a scan test for me. If it was more economical (fuel) for airliners to be propelled by something other than the jet engines while on the ground, we'd probably have seen some adoption of this at some level.

        I mean, this can be implemented today—a tug+human combo isn't expensive infrastructure to implement 1:1 for arriving/departing aircraft. I did a lot of traveling last year at a local airport which was undergoing construction, and planes entering one terminal would shut down engines and be towed in to the gate—this happened multiple times to me over about 2 months, at the same airport.

        I think there's likely large operational reasons why you need to have main engines on whilst taxiing—the engines probably need to be on for some amount of time, or it affords a bit of redundancy: what if the APU has problems and you're 3rd in line for takeoff and while starting your engines and you find out you need an air cart, etc..

        3 votes
        1. Greg
          Link Parent
          True, but only assuming the fuel is correctly priced. Right now the extraction and refinement is reflected in the price, but much of the cost relating to emissions is covered communally (and in a...

          If it was more economical (fuel) for airliners to be propelled by something other than the jet engines while on the ground, we'd probably have seen some adoption of this at some level.

          True, but only assuming the fuel is correctly priced. Right now the extraction and refinement is reflected in the price, but much of the cost relating to emissions is covered communally (and in a way that disproportionately affects certain geographies but disregards national borders). It's effectively a subsidy to anyone using fossil fuels.

          I'm a big proponent of market-based solutions, but in order to make them work here there needs to be something along the lines of a universal carbon tax that's high enough per kg of CO2 to sufficiently cover a global climate indemnity fund.

          3 votes
        2. Cosmos
          Link Parent
          You be surprised how long seemingly simple improvements can be overlooked. Take winglets for example. Just adding an extra little fin to the tip of the wing reduces drag significantly. Yet they...

          You be surprised how long seemingly simple improvements can be overlooked.

          Take winglets for example. Just adding an extra little fin to the tip of the wing reduces drag significantly. Yet they weren't introduced to commercial planes until 1985, and weren't put on every plane until the 2000s.

          Don't just assume something doesn't work because it hasn't been done yet.

          3 votes
    2. [2]
      vektor
      Link Parent
      As the article mentions, that seems to be added because airlines noticed they can't actually make the intended timeframe on the regular. Not a wrong thing to do, if fall behind the plan every...

      I think it is pretty well known that there is a ton of padding added into flights.

      As the article mentions, that seems to be added because airlines noticed they can't actually make the intended timeframe on the regular. Not a wrong thing to do, if fall behind the plan every time, to adjust the plan. Else the article would clamor that they're lying to you by advertising unrealistic flight times.

      Most of that extra time seems to be just milling around on the tarmac before takeoff.

      Now, I ain't no expert, but I doubt any of that is actual waiting because of the aircraft's own schedule. There's certainly lots of A) going somewhere (gate, runway) B) halting while pilots run checklists or communicate C) waiting for another aircraft to free a required resource (gate, runway, taxiway, etc). Only C is actually variable within the scope of this article, and I think it'll get easier to avoid if plans reflect reality more accurately - so you should pad your plans.

      I never really thought about the environmental impact that padding adds though and liked that the article mentioned it.

      It's not the padding, I think. AFAIK, an aircraft isn't going to just do nothing and wait to meet its intended timeframe. If it's early, it's early. Maybe it's gate isn't free yet, and now we can start to think about consequences. Standing around at idle thrust for a while? Diverting to another gate? Maybe, Idunno. But if we didn't pad, we'd be in the same situation, just somewhere else. That next flight using the same gate? They're now stuck waiting for you, because you didn't pad your flight time to account for delays. And if they pad to account for delays, that kinda indicates to me that they chose the lesser of two evils; the decision that makes less aircraft wait.

      If your padded plan leaves you with time to spare, just turn off the engines at the gate and you're good. I honestly believe this isn't as big a deal as the article makes it.

      3 votes
      1. nsz
        Link Parent
        The article makes the point that; padding has given airlines the breathing room to not worry about improving efficiency. They make multiple mentions of how the inefficient communication between...

        The article makes the point that; padding has given airlines the breathing room to not worry about improving efficiency. They make multiple mentions of how the inefficient communication between airlines and the control tower contribute to unnecessary waiting.

        If the allotted flight time is 4 hours and everyone has boarded on time then the extra 30 mins or whatever don't mean the plane now gets to leave early. No, that would disrupt the very careful schedule the control tower has to keep, so the plane is ushered to the waiting area, engines running and has to sit and wait for it's timeslot, I've noticed this quite a bit on the flights I've taken; frequent, almost commuter routes with flights time under an hour, but ticket always give an hour and 30 mins.

        All delays happen before the flight takes-off so any padding happens then, instead of the 15 mins between when boarding officially 'ends' and take-off they give 30 mins, or whatever the numbers are. If everything is on time, the plane still has to leave the gate and wait on the runway, sitting burning fuel, to keep the lights on and engines ready for take off.

        4 votes
  2. [7]
    emdash
    Link
    Should this be moved from ~life to ~misc?

    Should this be moved from ~life to ~misc?

    1 vote
    1. [6]
      asteroid
      Link Parent
      Well, if there were a ~business it'd fit there.

      Well, if there were a ~business it'd fit there.

      1. [5]
        emdash
        Link Parent
        Sure, but we don't, so ~misc makes more sense. @Deimos?

        Sure, but we don't, so ~misc makes more sense. @Deimos?

        1 vote
        1. [4]
          Deimos
          Link Parent
          Moved. I think ~business would probably be a good addition, I post quite a few business-ish stories myself, though they usually fit into ~tech or ~tv or one of the other existing groups.

          Moved. I think ~business would probably be a good addition, I post quite a few business-ish stories myself, though they usually fit into ~tech or ~tv or one of the other existing groups.

          1. [3]
            emdash
            Link Parent
            Yeah there's significant overlap between business, finance, economics, and tech. Not sure what the best way to structure that would be.

            Yeah there's significant overlap between business, finance, economics, and tech. Not sure what the best way to structure that would be.

            1 vote
            1. [2]
              nsz
              Link Parent
              I think easy cross posting, say adding a ~tech tag will crosspost the post to this topic. The key being the additional tilde to indicate it's a crosspost as opposed to just a content tag. EDIT:...

              I think easy cross posting, say adding a ~tech tag will crosspost the post to this topic. The key being the additional tilde to indicate it's a crosspost as opposed to just a content tag.

              EDIT: But I'd imagine both posts having the same comments section, just multiple paths to access it. Different from how reddit does crossposting, so maybe it's not the best name for it.

              1. emdash
                Link Parent
                Symlinking would probably the closest term for what you're looking for. Although that being said, niche groups might have more niche discussions on the same post, and such cross-pollination may be...

                Symlinking would probably the closest term for what you're looking for. Although that being said, niche groups might have more niche discussions on the same post, and such cross-pollination may be undesirable as it may drown out a smaller, cohesive group's commentary on behalf of a larger group.

                3 votes