Do the Airlines Provide Adequate Connection Times?
What better time than the busiest travel day of the year to talk about missed airline connections? At a briefing last week to expound on how to prepare for the busy skies during the Thanksgiving holidays, Jim May, head of the Air Transport Association, an airline trade group, urged that people allow lots of time for connections. Can you give a rule of thumb about how much time is needed, I asked, and by the way, aren't airlines the ones that create connection times, not passengers?
If I'd intended to be rude I'd have pointed out that his advice was months late, given that most people flying over Thanksgiving were already booked. Nonetheless, he acted as if I were a dentist who'd hit a nerve. People choose flights, he said, and he wasn't going to get into that with me now.
Could it be that maybe the airlines the ATA represents are routinely providing inadequate connection times, and feeling a little defensive about it?
Yes, passengers are the ones who choose flights, and the savvy ones will look at connection times to see if they make sense. After reading in our section on Nov. 11 a piece about a travel nightmare that started with a missed connection, a reader wrote me to say that she checked her family's flight to Greece over Christmas: She had been sold a ticket that gave her 50 minutes to get from her gate in Newark to the other side of the terminal, and was supposed to be at her international gate 30 minutes before scheduled departure. When she asked the airline if she could go on an earlier flight to Newark, she was told sure, but that'll be a $200 per ticket change fee, plus $50- something for processing the change.
Okay, so you could argue the reader should have thought about connection times before buying a ticket with a close connection. Then what about another reader who, when buying a ticket, asked for an earlier flight to connect with her flight to Hawaii, and was told no.
What's up with that? You can't always get what you want generally, but seems to me you should be able to get what you want if you're paying for it and it exists on the open marketplace.
Anyone else had tight connection experiences? By the way, one of the reasons airlines sell flights with tight connections is they say they have to because so many people will buy tickets based on how long the trip will supposedly take. Before buying a ticket with a connecting flight, do you consider total trip time and buy the one that takes the least time, on paper at least? Or do you look at connection times and reject flight pairs that seem risky? Or do you not consider time at all?
By Cindy Loose |
November 21, 2007; 11:25 AM ET
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