DoT reports long delays down, cancellations up


Good news: The DoT 3-hour rule works. At least in terms of reducing the number of flights which experience long tarmac delays. The DoT is bragging about the latest batch of numbers which show only 30 domestic flights in 2014 with a 3+ hour tarmac time and only 8 international flights with a 4+ hour tarmac time.

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There’s another bit of data not shown there, however. Cancellations are also up.

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In fact, 2014 had the highest percentage of flights canceled since 2001, narrowly edging out 2007 which is around when the 3-hour rule lobbying began.

So, is this really better for passengers? I’m betting the answer is a mixed bag overall. But the increase in cancelled flights is thousands higher than the count by which the 3+ hour delayed flights decreased. And that’s even before considering that airlines scheduled about 10% fewer flights in 2014 than in 2010.

As load factors creep ever higher accommodating displaced passengers becomes more difficult. And the much higher rate of cancelled flights suggests, at least to me, that more are being displaced.

Also, I’m quite entertained by Mary Schiavo’s take on the data. She lobbied hard for the 3-hour rule and has thrown her support behind it regardless of fact.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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