DOT Now Releasing Tarmac Delay Information

Sorry I’m a little late this morning, but we’re (finally) getting some serious rain here in Southern California and that knocked out our power for awhile. We’re back up and running now, so let’s get to it.

If you read other blogs, you’ve most likely seen that the DOT has released the latest Air Travel Consumer Report with October delay information (PDF) inside. As you can imagine, October was a great month for the airlines. The combination of less capacity and the usually benign fall weather led no airline to have less than 80% of flights arrive on time. That’s great.

But this month’s report was a little thicker than usual as the DOT has started reporting specific tarmac delays. Apparently there were six flights in October that had tarmac delays of over four hours. Five of those were on ExpressJet operating for Continental in Houston over two days, October 15 and 22. Why? Well, there were thunderstorms around Houston, of course.

The worst was flight 2356 from Birmingham to Houston on October 15. That plane sat on the tarmac for 5 hours and 8 minutes. Holy crap. And if that isn’t bad enough, these people were stuck on an CRJ ERJ! Oh, the horror!

The odd man out on this list was actually an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Juneau that sat on the ground on October 23 for four and a half hours. Seattle had rain that day, but it wasn’t anything unlike every other day up there between October and May. Juneau, on the other hand, had an inch and a half of rain with winds gusting to 56 mph. Ok, maybe that was the problem. But still, four and a half hours? Come on guys.

The report also gives the total number of flights with more than 3 hours on the ground for each airline. ExpressJet was the king with 24 of them. That could very well mean there were more than 1,000 tortured souls on an CRJ ERJ for that long. Continental had 12, but none crossed that four hour threshold. Nobody else had more than two. Kudos to Hawaiian, Frontier, JetBlue, Pinnacle, Northwest, American Eagle, and Southwest for not having a single one.

Updated 12/15 @ 907a: Changed from CRJ to ERJ – my stupid mistake!


11 Responses to DOT Now Releasing Tarmac Delay Information

  1. Dan Webb says:

    To be a bit nit-picky about Expressjet – wouldn’t that be an ERJ instead of a CRJ?

  2. CF says:

    Wow, that’s a mistake I should never make. Thanks for point it out, Dan. It’s been fixed.

  3. CF – I’m sorry you missed the Seattle rainy season… It runs from October to September. ;-)

  4. Ryan says:

    Actually, the Alaska flight 75 delay was not a delay at all – it was flight 75 that left seattle, went up to Juneau, couldn’t land and returned to seattle – see the Flight Aware tracking of it:
    http://flightaware.com/live/flight/ASA75/history/20081023/1912Z/KSEA/PAJN

    It would appear DOT has some work to do to perfect these flights…

  5. Oliver says:

    Wow. Does Alaska always carry twice the amount of fuel they need on their way up to Alaska?

  6. Ryan says:

    Speaking as one with no (zero) authority on the topic, I’d guess they carry a bit more fuel than a mainline flight, but probably not double. Remember there are rules around carrying enough fuel to safely land at an alternate airport, I just can’t recall how much fuel is required to comply with this safety rule.

  7. I wonder if they tanker in fuel from Seattle because it is cheaper in Seattle than it is in Juneau? I know Delta had to do this for a while in Atlanta due to the fuel shortages after Hurricane Katrina.

  8. CF says:

    They could do some tankering, but chances are that with the weather in Juneau being that bad, they would have had to carry a lot more fuel than normal due to expectations for holding and potential diversion. That’s a flight you want to top up because there aren’t many options around there.

  9. Oliver says:

    Ketchikan and Sitka seem to be alternatives they could land at, but maybe they are/were too close and thus impacted by the same weather.

  10. CF says:

    Looks like the DOT figured out what we’ve already discussed here (thanks Ryan) – that data ain’t good!
    http://blogs.wsj.com/middleseat/2009/01/08/dot-yanks-new-stats-on-tarmac-delays-after-flaws-found-in-data/trackback/

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