Unclogging the Airways: A Modest Proposal
The three New York airports take the three bottom slots on the list of airports with the worst on-time arrivals and departures, and the delays there ripple throughout the country.
In fact, an astounding 75 percent of delays nationwide originate in New York, according to a study by the Business Travel Coalition. How can that be? Well, if a flight from New York is arriving exceedingly late in Los Angeles, planes with on-time arrivals are put in a holding pattern while the flight from New York -- which might even be low on fuel -- is allowed to land.
The upshot? People on the planes being held miss connections, or planes await their arrival, and the domino effect begins.
The federal government, to the great consternation of airlines, has suggested limiting the number of flights into New York airports during prime times, and perhaps charging a premium for flying into JFK, Newark and LaGuardia during airport rush hours.
Yesterday, David Stempler of the Air Travelers Association came up with a different set of proposals for New York. Stempler, the consumer rep on a committee considering New York solutions, suggested:
* Eliminate all corporate jet operations at LaGuardia.
* Eliminate all published airline connections at LaGuardia. Thus LaGuardia would be a place to leave from or fly to, but not to connect through.
* Change the definition of "delay," currently defined as 15 minutes or more. I don't get how changing the definition helps anything, but Stempler says it will give passengers "a more realistic understanding of the congestion/delay situtation." His theory is that no one really complains about a 15 minute delay -- passengers are happy when they make it within that period of their scheduled arrival. While it would be good to know how late a given flight is on average, I'm not sure the definition needs to change.
* Finally, Stempler is suggesting that "non-standard' departures not be allowed from La Guardia. As he explains it, such departures arise when the aircraft, as loaded, cannot take off within FAA guidelines from the runway in use. So, the aircraft is sent to another runway. "It is like sending a car down the opposite direction of the Long Island Expressway in rush hour, with all the disruptions that would cause." Instead, if wind or weight or other conditions prohibit a plane taking off from the first assigned runway, it should either wait until conditions make it able to use that runway or cancel the flight.
That last one is tough to digest, but do the suggestions taken together make more sense than simply reducing the use of New York airports at peak travel times?
UPDATE (12/3/07): Stempler announced that his proposals were "summarily denied" by Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters. He is protesting the denials.
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Posted by: Walter Nissen | November 28, 2007 1:39 PM
Posted by: freq flier | November 28, 2007 2:15 PM
Posted by: NYC flier | December 3, 2007 1:27 PM
Posted by: NYC flier, cont. | December 3, 2007 1:45 PM
Posted by: Cindy Loose | December 3, 2007 1:56 PM
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