Sunday, January 9, 2011

Southwest Airlines And DOT On Time Statistics



SWA At Gate For years, many have believed that Southwest has "padded" their on time arrival and departure data.

Regardless of what SWA or any other airline might do, the DOT on-time stats is a BIG JOKE!




The DOT tracks airline's on time performance based on the information the airlines provide them. Most airlines use an automatic reporting system. Southwest for years has used a manual system. A manual system allows an airline to tell the DOT what time a particular flight departed or arrived.

To my knowledge this is done without independent verification. So, what time did the 10:30am departure leave? Of course at 10:30am!


Samsung 208 Many years ago, Gordon Bethune Continental’s CEO complained about this practice of Southwest but his complaints were ignored.

Continental staff actually watched Southwest airplanes arrive and depart then compared their actual times to reported times.

Guess what? Southwest was providing false times! No surprise.



In the end, the stats are meaningless and can be easy manipulated. Airlines publish their own schedule flight times. If you want a flight to always be "on time" then you pad the scheduled times. LGA (New York) - MIA (Miami) Dep 10am Arr 2pm. This gives you 4hrs to fly the route which actually only take about 2 and a half hours under normal circumstances.

This practice is evident in the winter when airlines "pad" their schedule because of the possibility of bad weather. On a nice day in the middle of winter out of LGA if you leave the gate on time you will always arrive at your destination "on time" maybe even 20-30 minutes early.



NWA And SWA ABQ Southwest itself is a decent airline that has carved out a nice niche in the travel business. In the end, most people travel on the airline that provides them the cheapest airfare on a given day.

Even if your bags fly free, that may not always be on Southwest.





Friday, January 7, 2011

Da Plane, Da Plane, De-Ice, De-Ice, Delay



Winter Weather Radar Winter months with the constant threat of snow and ice is the time of the year when weather can greatly affect your travel plans.

However, understanding a bit of airline winter operations may help you have a better travel experience.




When there is snow or ice at your departure or arrival airport, airlines, airports and air traffic control normally put “winter ops” into effect. For airlines this means having an effective de-icing program, for airports it’s snow plowing airport surfaces and for air traffic control it means “metering”, take-off and landing timed slots (delays).



SAM 002 For an airplane to safely fly, accumulated snow and ice on the airplane's critical surfaces like the wings and tail section must be removed.

These elements disrupt the smooth flow of air across the wings and tail which seriously degrade these surfaces ability to produce lift.

Producing lift is essential for the airplane to fly.







SAM0106 001 Southwest Airlines Being Deiced At Cleveland Hopkins Airport




Deicing is usually a two step process and passengers are informed by the flight crew when this is required. The fact that it is snowing does not mean that the airplane needs to be deiced. Deicing is only necessary if the snow is sticking (accumulating) on the critical surfaces of the airplane. The airplane must just be free and clear of snow and ice prior to take-off.



SAM 001 Snow or ice on the aircraft is first removed with a warm glycol type solution (de-iced) before a preventive solution (anti-ice) is applied if it is warranted by weather conditions.

A 10-20 minute process that depends on the current airplane and weather conditions.

Nonetheless, there are time and weather limits to safety protection given by de-icing.



Should the weather conditions change or if there are lengthy delays for take-off, your flight may have to be deiced a second time.


Fortunately, airlines build extra time into their winter schedules to allow for such events. This should lead to minimum delays for your flight. However, due to the new passenger bill of rights, airlines may cancel flights if delays will exceed the new rules time limits.



SAM 003Continental Airlines 737 That Needs Deicing




SAM 004 One minor effect of ground de-icing is that the fluid is sometimes sucked into the aircraft air condition system.

This can be noticed in the form of a sweet odor during initial taxi out or departure.

However, this odor will dissipate en route to your destination.




Once in the air, the airplane's on board anti-ice system (normally hot air from the engines) keeps critical areas free of snow and ice.

Deicing and winter ops are just part of the process that allows airlines to safely take you to your destination when Mother Nature wants to wreak havoc on your travel plans.