Why a Four-Hour Flight Now Takes Seven

Garrett On The Road

In today’s Wall Street Journal, reporter Scott McCartney has a story entitled, “Why a Six-Hour Flight Now Takes Seven.” It’s well-researched and recommended reading: full of interesting details and data. But the title should really be “Why a Four-Hour Flight Now Takes Seven.”

In his thesis, the author cites a coast-to-coast Delta flight that used to be scheduled for six hours, but is now listed at seven. I can recall a time when that flight

took just four.

Mr. McCartney points out carriers have been arbitrarily adding minutes to “block times” – which are the scheduled durations of trips. This is, in effect, adding slop time so they can actually be late, without getting dinged in U.S. Department of Transportation “On-Time Performance” statistics. This is meant to cover up laziness, incompetence and inefficiency in the system.

Carriers have also cut back on flights, so they have fewer planes…

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