Ignore Irresponsible Warning About Holiday Travel on JetBlue and to Minneapolis

Those of you who are Elliott.org readers might have been a little alarmed by an article yesterday entitled, Christmas air travel warning: avoid Minneapolis, JetBlue and Northwest Flight 189. That article was so incredibly misleading that I had to clear the record.

Where is this very odd warning coming from? Last year’s on-time performance between December 23 and December 25. I’m not even kidding. Gee, anyone bother to look at whether there were maybe some reasons for this performance? Unbelievable.

First he starts with airport performance where Minneapolis saw the longest average total delay. (I’m not sure why he used that metric instead of percentage of flights arriving on time. Chicago/O’Hare was worse in that category.) In case you were wondering, Minneapolis/St Paul International Airport saw the following weather last year:

December 23 – High 14 deg, wind at 17 gusts to 35 mph, 3.10 in. of snow, fog
December 24 – High 20 deg, wind at 7 gusts to 18 mph
December 25 – High 28 deg, wind at 4 gusts to 14 mph, 3.40 in. of snow, fog

Think the miserable weather could have impacted flights? You betcha. Lots of fog and snow is always going to slow things down, but there’s no reason to think that this will somehow translate to poor performance this year. To suggest you should avoid Minneapolis because of last year’s problems is laughable.

He goes on to list airlines as well. JetBlue had the highest “Average Total Delay” which is probably par for the course when most of your flights go through JFK. But then he goes on to say that you should avoid small planes as well because most of the delayed airlines were regional carriers. Um, looking at his chart, I see JetBlue and United topping the list followed by four regional carriers and then Frontier, Northwest, and American. Seems pretty evenly spread out to me. (Though to be fair, in bad weather, small planes do tend to end up at the back of the line.)

Lastly he looks at the top delayed flight numbers during that time period last year. Surprise, surprise. Seven of them involve Minneapolis/St Paul on one end or the other. Again, that bad weather will certainly make this happen.

The bottom line here is that looking at on-time performance for three days last year is in no way an indicator of performance during this year’s holiday season. For a better metric, you can look at on-time performance trends from the DOT to see which airlines are consistently underperforming, but even that is no guarantee. You’re most likely at the whim of the weather, and sadly, the Farmer’s Almanac hasn’t quite gotten to that level of detail yet. As we saw this past Sunday, every place in the US is susceptible to delays when bad weather comes in.

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17 Comments on "Ignore Irresponsible Warning About Holiday Travel on JetBlue and to Minneapolis"

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A
Guest
Thanks for being the voice of reason Cranky. Clearly if someone has an axe to grind against a certain airline they can find a week or two where things weren’t 100%. The AA MD80 grounding from February rings a bell. Now would it be fair to judge them by that week? Hardly. MSP can be a headache in winter (at times) but lets not forget that last year while Chicago was getting buried in snow, Mpls had below normal snowfall. If I were picking locations for a layover hands down I’d pick MSP over ORD. I give props to all… Read more »
Anonymous
Guest

Elliott is the sloppiest travel writer I have ever read. I long ago unsubscribed from his newsletter. Unfortunately he still appears on Tripso which has some writers I do want to read. Since Tripso doesn’t always note the author in the teaser squib, I sometimes see his crap; but I never read it.

benjamin.foley
Member
Cranky, thanks for the update. I noticed Elliotts article and was a bit skeptical about it and the first thing that came to mind was Minneapolis in the middle of the winter which positively equals delays. I used to fly from JFK on Northwest through MSP to ANC during winter months, lots of delays but you’re dealing with the beast of mother nature. Also, expect delays through JFK on Jetblue and any other airline during peak holiday travel. I’m flying out on a Jetblue E190 to SDQ tonight and am looking forward to my first Embraer experience and roaming Terminal… Read more »
Oliver
Guest

I wonder if Chris Elliott uses the same approach for his stock picking. Last year this day the companies with the best per-day gain were …, so it seems reasonable to buy those today, too. Right?

Darkwater
Guest

Another reason why regional airlines and small planes tend to get put to the back of the line during wx delays is that shorter inbound flights which tend to be operated by regional carriers or smaller a/c are more likely to have gate holds at their origin imposed on them than a longer flight, since a longer flight is more likely to be in the air when the airport reduces the number of landings per hour.

Danny
Guest

Why bother with this person? Just some unhappy bastard who paid $49 for his tickets and want’s to complain.

SkyHigh
Guest

This guy is laughable… He doesnt deserve to fly at all for blaming bad weather for delays. Take the bus loser. Oh but be careful Greyhound is more expensive than JB on a handful of days through to the end of January. And you can bet you butt that the ice on those roads will slow that bus down too. ;)

Thanks for setting the record straight.

Robin Hayes
Guest

Hi Brett,

Thanks for setting the record straight. All of us at JetBlue know we are not perfect but we do all come to work everyday to try and make a difference and it is natually disappointing for us when we have clearly let one of our customers down. I am still an avid reader of The Crankyflier as a guide to what we are doing well and what we need to improve.

Best, Robin Hayes
Chief Commercial Officer
JetBlue Airways

Newyorker
Guest

Jetblue needs to go away like ATA, EASTERN and TWA … Take a real airline like AA or DELTA

Frequent Traveler
Guest

I hope JetBlue does not go away. I prefer their price, live TV and newer planes with more leg room.

skyhigh
Guest

Ha ha ha. Yeh fly rude AA or old lady Delta rather than a hip airline with planes no older than 7. TVs comfy seats and free snacks and drinks… Yeh. Sounds like a true New Yorker. Stupid :) ha ha. You stay on those “other” airlines and then I and other people dont have to put up with you.

Happy New Yorker
Guest

Are you kidding?!?! I took my first flight on Jetblue last week and it was amazing! I used to fly Delta every time but I have seen the light! I am not worried about the holiday travel…if you are familiar with JFK…expect delays on all airlines. Besides, I am more than happy to wait and be safe…especially if I am waiting in terminal 5…BEAUTIFUL!

the other happy new yorker
Guest
the other happy new yorker
Same here…I agree, keep Jetblue in NY…not only do I feel safer in an aircraft that is no older than 8 years(fyi…aa20-30year aircraft and same goes for delta). I kid you NOT there is more legroom on Jetblue’s eml seats than there are in some of aa/delta’s first class(been there, seen that). I’m gonna be honest, Jetblue isn’t always perfect, but definately goes above and beyond comparing cust ser, and best bang for your buck! And I agree w/ Skyhigh….free snacks and drinks(and yes you get the WHOLE CAN, and another 1 if you want it) tv’s(and not just one… Read more »
won456
Guest

In response to Newyorker, AA and Delta became who they are because of Eastern And TWA these two Airlines where the talk of the town, Delta and AA where small carriers.(non-real airlines) No One in there right mind would dream of flying them.
When Eastern and PanAm went out of business due to Bad greedy upper MGT. AA & Delta took over those routes, and started to grow to where they are today…

jk
Guest

I had a look at the article a few days ago. There was a Comment / Link-back (whatever) that mentioned the Cranky article.

I looked back today. No more link.

I guess everyone reserves the right to remove links/comments from their own blog. Just thought it was interesting.

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