US Airways Gives a Unique Perspective on the Three Hour Delay Rule

Yesterday was US Airways media day, and I made my way to Phoenix to attend. As US Airways Media Dayusual, it was a good day but there wasn’t any big news to announce. (I think they were hoping to announce a merger, but, well, that ain’t happening. You can read more about that on BNET).

During the Q&A, there was a very interesting discussion on the 3 hour ground delay rule which goes into effect this week. I thought it was worth replaying the discussion here to show a pretty unique perspective.

Joe Sharkey, long-time aviation journalist, asked, “the tarmac rules take effect this week. What’s your prediction for the likelihood for preemptive cancellations?

COO Robert Isom took the mike first and responded:

We’ve imposed the new DOT regulations on ourselves this whole past month. It’s been a pretty good weather month, and we saw the kind of impact it would have on a small scale.

There were a number of flighst that had to turn back and a few people that wanted to get off. The biggest issues will come up during the summer. Not only is there not enough room at hub airports out on the tarmac but there aren’t enough gates to handle all the airplanes that are supposed to take off and those who are going to land.

Because there could be so much congestion, you have to leave yourselves exit points on the airport grounds in order to get planes back, so you’re going to reduce your overall capacity.

What I would envision is a lot of cautiousness. The defense we have is canceling flights.

In April, we had very little impact to the operation. It wasn’t a busy month weather-wise.

At that point, Chairman and CEO Doug Parker took the mike and went off in a surprising direction.

There absolutely will be cancellations that won’t be canceled otherwise. I don’t want to sound like we’re complaining, like some other airlines out there. Fact is, we [the industry] got ourselves in this mess. Fortunately it wasn’t us [US Airways] but in some of these siutations, maybe we’re just fortunate.

This has been going on for awhile and we’ve been warned that we needed to get it fixed so shame on us. If you don’t fix it you’ll get legislation. The legislation is not going to be perfect and there will be unintended consequences, but we just have to deal with it.

More than likely, it’ll be preemptive – we’ll start canceling flights. $27,500 per passenger is a little more than each passenger pays.

The really bad part of this legislation is that when you look at these events, almost every one of them landed somewhere – diversion or something. Let’s have fines for that, but let’s not have fines for people trying to get out of airports, but that’s the problem we’ve now created.

We’re going to have airplanes never depart that should depart and that’s unfortunate. But again, we did it to ourselves.

Bet you didn’t see that coming, huh? The man has got a point. We can talk about whether it’s good or bad, but hey, they just have to deal with it regardless. I have no doubt that SVP Public Affairs C.A. Howlett is doing what he can to advocate for US Airways in Washington, but from an operational perspective, it’s just time to deal with it.

I’m looking forward to seeing the operational numbers. There have already been some cancellations, but we haven’t seen much because of the benign weather. Just wait until the first massive summer thunderstorm hits and then we’ll have some interesting numbers.

One thing is clear. We’re not going to see planes on the ground for more than 3 hours at US Airways. They’ll just be canceled before that even becomes a possibility.


32 Responses to US Airways Gives a Unique Perspective on the Three Hour Delay Rule

  1. Miles says:

    I would not be surprised to see the FAA announce the big fines in a case or two, but then later quietly reduce them drastically.

    I applaud the US Air chairman for coming out and saying it: “We did it to ourselves.”

    • CF says:

      I think you’re probably right. The reality is that these fines are up to $27,500 per passenger, so nobody really knows what will be proposed the first time it happens. But the airlines have to budget for a worst case scenario, at least until they get some guidance on what’s actually going to happen.

  2. SirWired says:

    Congrats to the CEO who admitted what should have been obvious to everybody. Self-regulation of this problem was not nearly as effective as it should have been, and the result (legislation, by its nature imperfect) should not have been a surprise to anybody.

    That said, US Air has had its share of gridlock at PHL… (poor terminal design, which I imagine they had a hand in.)

    • I’m actually against the view that they brought it on themselves due to the operation.

      Honestly and realistically in the few recent incidents the only things the airline could have done was pop the slide and have the onboard crew walk the passengers to the terminal. While I think at about 6 hours or so on a diversion the captain should be empowered to make this decision, and supported when they do.

      I am of the opinion that the airlines do a poor job of communicating in situations like this, and that is how they brought it on themselves.

  3. PWMFlyer19 says:

    I would give props for taking blame and not trying to pass it off like the others. Sometimes you do it to yourself. We’ll how places like DFW/ATL are this summer during the t-storms.

  4. Xnuiem says:

    As someone that lives with DFW, it is going to be better than a lot of airports just because of the design of the taxiways, especially the new ones going in. But, something I see being an issue at all airports, is when number 4 in line has to get out, and the only way out, is to get on the runway, move down to another taxiway and then go back to the terminal. That is going to slow things down.

    I am fuzzy on what ATC can do when it comes to “airport disruption” and such as an exception to the rule. I havent seen it really spelled out yet, so perhaps that will be an out for the carriers.

  5. Leslie says:

    I’m just curious – do you think this new legislation will increase the need to purchase travel insurance if your flight is cancelled?

    I also appreciate US Airways’ candidness in their comments. It’s nice to see an airline taking responsbility for their actions while also being proactive to fix the new, current problem. Nicely done!

    • CF says:

      Well, theoretically this will result in more cancellations, so if you’ve booked prepaid hotels and car rentals, then insurance might be helpful. It’s really a personal decision.

  6. Should be interesting this winter when back to back storms hit and airlines cancel hundreds of flights knowing they would go past the 3hr rule. Airports will start looking like the ones in Europe during the volcano closures. Seas of people sleeping on the floor waiting days to departure on any space they can find.

    The first major event that causes cancel chaos will send people screaming to their elected officials and a change will come.

    The 3hr rule was talked about in todays paper, I think I read it starts today.

  7. “The really bad part of this legislation is that when you look at these events, almost every one of them landed somewhere – diversion or something. Let’s have fines for that, but let’s not have fines for people trying to get out of airports, but that’s the problem we’ve now created.”
    ————————————————————————-

    Gee, I wish I’d said that…

    Oh, wait, I did, and no doubt so did others in my profession as well.

    Maybe Mr. Parker finally spoke to someone in his own OCC/SOCC for a dispatcher’s perspective on the “apples and oranges” aspects of this issue. Maybe Mr. Parker, et. al. finally realized that they’d grossly underestimated the ability of Ms. Hanni’s organization to get “traction” on the issue with DOT (and Congress), not because the specific operational situations that caused the 7+ hour delays were necessarily commonplace, but that Ms. Hanni et. al. were able to tap into the traveling public’s disdain and intolerance of any delays period, irrespective of cause or validity.

    Here’s another way to look at it. Imagine yourself on a rural interstate or turnpike, and traffic suddenly slows, and then stops completely. The cause? the bridge a mile ahead that carries the highway traffic over the Podunk River has just collapsed into said river. Traffic backs up behind you for miles, and you’re stuck there, unable to turn around or go anywhere. Before emergency responders can arrive and get it all sorted out, you sit there for 6 hours. In the days/weeks that follow, outrage ensues over the lengthy 6 hour delays. The eventual “solution” are rules/legislation that now prohibit being stuck in traffic jams for more than 1-hour, and insanely high fines for violations of the new rule. That’ll stop “all those” 6-hour delays, right? It’ll also create “new” problems, since the new rule are also applicable to the types of traffic jams that are all too common during some “normal” rush hours, and especially so if there is weather and/or traffic accidents involved. It’s the Law of Unitended Consequences in action.

    I’m sure that some responders to this post will attempt to nitpick the above analogy to pieces, but the essential truth will remain, and that is, when people (outside the industry and without experience and training) don’t properly understand everything associated with the “problem”, then their “solutions” are not likely to have optimum results, and will almost certainly result in a situation that’s worse (overall) than the original problem. Make no mistake–none of that should be perceived as acceptance of how the various 7+ hour delay situations of Ms. Hanni (and others) were handled–it’s just that the one-size-fits-all solution will create more problems that it purports to solve.

    Airlines can’t control fickle weather, nor the ATC responses when weather does arise. Maybe Mr. Parker (and Sec. LaHood, and Ms. Hanni) will all eventually come to realize that as well. Until then, welcome to the new world of airline travel—and remember, you asked for it.

    • OlleGator says:

      Look – I completely get what you are saying. However, none of this would have been necessary if the Airlines had handled past 7+ hour delays well. Instead, they continue to sweep it under the rug as an “isolated incident” and “not our fault”.

      I think that a reasonable, common sense approach is the correct one without legislation, but that’s not where we’re at. We’re at the point where the masses (whether by misinformation or not) are up in arms about being stuck in a aircraft without basic amenities, little or no official communication and no plan for even considering what can be done to mitigate these absurd delays.

      I was just on a flight was was delayed for a couple of hours. The pilot was very upfront – letting us know when he expected to hear more (every 30 min) and after that letting the passengers know what to expect and when they would hear another update. Of course, people were not happy, but everyone was very happy that we were hearing something, even if it wasn’t what we wanted to hear.

    • Eric says:

      I like your analogy Dispatcher….very well said. My question is this: when diversions happen from now on…will you look at factors outside of weather and field restrictions?

      For example, lets say ORD is getting hammered with training summer storms…MKE is good, but your airline does not fly there…or your 3 gates and 1 remote stand are occupied…so you look to IND…oops its full too. Plan C is, say SDF…not because it is close and accepting traffic, but because 1. you have ops staff there and 2. there are gates available. Will these be the new metrics in evaluating alternate airports?

      • Based on past experience (30+ years), what I expect to see, in part, is this:

        1. Airlines will start carrying more fuel, both for potential holding pattern use, and to be able to reach “online” alternates (where the airline has service to) instead of “offline” alternates. Offline alternates are commonly closer the a destination (ACY for PHL or NYC, for example), but a good way to avoid the potential hassles at an offline site are to use online sites.

        2. The additional fuel required for the two items above will, in many cases, result in payload restrictions. Most folks know that takeoff weights are related to runway length and readily conclude that a 10,000-foot runway at the takeoff point means no problem, but that’s not the only consdieration. Aircraft also have a max landing weight (MLW), and when one adds the fuel (A to B) to the MLW, the resultant max weight is almost always less than the max takeoff limit weight allows. Generally speaking, if your flight is less than 2-2.5 hours in duration, your flight is landing weight limited, and not takeoff limited, and the bottom line is that most flights can’t carry a full payload and an unlimited supplty of fuel.

        3. If an airport gets impacted by weather such that departures slow down or cease entirely, you will see ground delays and/or groundstops imposed, and by the airline, and not just ATC. Airports have “throughput” and the number of flights-in needs to roughly equal the number of flights-out. If more flights arrive than can depart, the airport can easily go into the “Roach Motel” mode, i.e. aircraft go in but they can’t get out. This is especially the case at airports like LGA and DCA that lack the real estate of larger airports like JFK and IAD, but even larger airports can get gridlocked if throughput isn’t properly managed by the airline. This is what nailed NWA and JBU with their respective DTW and JFK events, when they were literally bogged down by heavy snow.

        There will be other items/actionsm, but the common denominator will be that all are designed to avoid ringing the 3-hour egg-timer and risking a huge fine, and that these actions will occur futher “upstream” from the affected airport.

      • I’ll hasten to add that another reason fewer offline and more online diversions will occur is that at an online airport, the airline’s own personnel will be able there to deal with passenger issues. At an offline airport, the crew (and in the particular, the captain) is responsible, and many don’t want to risk showing up on Youtube, like the captain of the Virgin America flight that ended up diverting to SWF a few weeks ago.

  8. Trent880 says:

    Yeah the airlines “did it to themselves” by not getting in front of the issue and letting stupid people with a cause they know nothing about taking the lead (ie Hanni), not pressing the government more on a comprehensive ATC plan, and then letting the government walk all over the airlines. The traffic analogy is perfect. Imagine if the government were to charge you $100 every time you were stuck in traffic for more than an hour–a “green tax” let’s say. You’d suddenly start making a lot fewer trips when there was even a remote possibility that the traffic would be bad. Everyone should have seen this coming miles away.

  9. “However, none of this would have been necessary if the Airlines had handled past 7+ hour delays well. Instead, they continue to sweep it under the rug as an “isolated incident” and “not our fault”.

    “…it wasn’t what we wanted to hear”.
    ———————————————————————————

    …or, perhaps equally as likely, the explanation for the former resulted in the reaction of the latter.

    It’s already gotten to the point where some/many/everyone (pick one) automatically reacts to any info an airline offers as an explanation for anything as being mumbo-jumbo misinformation. Why the increased delays in PHL? They just switched to an east flow and the AAR dropped from 48 to 32. Why, that’s gobbledygook! It might be perceived that way, but it’s also right there at http://www.fly.faa.gov/Information/east/zny/phl/phl_aar.htm These are among the many operational realities that we have to deal with.

    Among the many things that folks don’t fully understand is that airport/airspace capacity isn’t necessarily a constant commodity at all airports. The combination of surface winds, cloud ceilings, what instrument approaches may be available (not every runway has a CAT-III ILS, or even a CAT-I ILS serving it) and other factors drive the airport capacity numbers. On the enroute side, any areas of weather that make a chunk of airspace between Point-A and Point-B unusuable (due to thunderstorms, servere icing or severe turbulence) also affect the ability to run on-time operations. Another reason folks don’t consider these and other items is that they tend to view delays purely in the context of *their* flight, and nothing as far as any *systemic* context. Anytime demand exceeds supply, that equals delays.

    Could the passengers be better-educated about all the operational variables (avoidable, and unavoidable alike) that could adversely affect their flight? Sure, the airlines could train them all as they do pilots and dispatchers, but that’s obviously not cost-effective. Nor is it reasonable to train *every* airline employee to make all employee “interchangeable” knowledge-wise. (Can you imagine if hospitals did this? “Oh Mr./Ms. admissions clerk; I have a question about this surgical procedure…”)

    Personally, I think the Air Transport Association (ATA) doinked things up big-time by not getting out ahead of things and puytting out something similar to this item that the original Frontier Airlines (v1.0, based at DEN) put out years ago: http://www.aviationphotographs.net/FrontierAirlines/YourKey/yourkey.html

    All that said, it’s still not going convince everyone that what they’re hearing from the airlines is valid info. Some of that is society-related–in this age of information via a fast internet, there’s a tendency for folks to think that they’re smarter than they really are when it comes to areas outside their normal area of expertise. Hell, one hotel chain even uses that in their advertising.

    The ultimate common-sense test, though, is that airlines, and the people that run them, dislike delays even more than the passengers, and further, that if there was any “magic-wand” solution to every delay issue, we’d all be waving them. That said, if an unexpected cluster of thunderstorms pops-up over (or near) a major airport, and then decides to slow down or quit moving (as they cometimes do), we’re at the mercy of Mother Nature, just like everyone else. Few weather situation can be “reverse-engineered” to render a “The airlines should have known that…” result, yet it doesn’t stop people from trying.

    • OlleGator says:

      How about saying that the delay was due to weather? Or the delay is due to a ground stop? Or the delay is due to fog? I don’t need to know, as you put it – “They just switched to an east flow and the AAR dropped from 48 to 32″. I need to know – “Folks, this is the Captain speaking. ATC has just informed us that they need to slow down the rate of arriving aircraft for safety reasons. Unfortunately, this will result in our flight being delayed. ATC has informed us that we should receive an update on our departure time in XX minutes. We thank you for your patience and will be back with you shortly.”

      Will some people be perturbed? Sure. But most people will be happy with the update and go on reading their books or looking out the window.

      Simple measures like that can go a LONG way in defusing a situation. The airlines did not do a good job of doing this, so you had passengers that were not only inconvenienced greatly by waiting 7+ hours, but also by the lack of info.

      Nobody wants delays – passengers, crew, dispatchers, ATC, airlines – no one. But the airlines had what, 900+ chances last year to make a realistic effort to minimize the effect of these delays and they really didn’t do anything.

      • I’ll admit, you have a point, but crews are amongst those who tend to view delays in an individual flight context versus a systemic one. I doubt that many pilots know what an AAR is—in the world of KISS, all they know is that there’s an “ATC” delay. Whether the delay is from a GDP, a groundstop, ESP “overhead stream”, or TMA-based delays, it’s all one general “ATC” delay, irrespective of the characteristics of each kind of delay.

        Could pilots be better trained in this area? Sure, but they’re at the top of the aviation food-chain, and…well, you know…. ;)

  10. Maarten says:

    My take? US Airways admits its an industry created problem. Dispatcher is right about weather being unpredictable, equipment not being equal everywhere, etc. Even the collapsed bridge example has some credibility to it.

    BUT… (yes, you knew there was going to be a “but”): there is simply too much demand and not enough capacity at many airports. So it comes to a grinding halt unless the weather is picture perfect everywhere, all systems run smoothly, no aircraft have technical issues, all passengers are on time, all crew make it to their equipment on time, etc. etc.

    The reality is (and yes, I am looking for instance at you, La Guardia): many airports are simply not designed for the amount of traffic they are trying to cope with unless it is that rare day I described above. And the crappy ATC system is, as we all know, seriously outdated, which does not help much either.

    So it is refreshing to see the words “This has been going on for awhile and we’ve been warned that we needed to get it fixed so shame on us. If you don’t fix it you’ll get legislation. The legislation is not going to be perfect and there will be unintended consequences, but we just have to deal with it” from an airline exec.

    Schedule too many flights wanting to land or take off all at the same time? Well then you’re in a mess. Now let’s try and get ourselves out of it…

    • The problem is the airlines can’t reliably reduce flights w/o an anti-trust exemption. A single airline won’t reduce flights on their own, because another airline will just add them. Airlines would need to agree to reduce a certain number of flights as a whole. It is currently against anti-trust law for them to have that discussion.

  11. JayB says:

    As always, Dispatcher, your comments are very helpful, at least to those of us who do want to learn about the problems causing delays. Simply put, there are a lot of reasons for delays, far more than many of us are aware of. OK.

    But, to many of us, as you see in our comments, we have a simple request when delays occur: please tell us in as simple terms as possible, what is going on, why, and what you are planning to do to make our lives better. Keep it simple, be timely, and above all, be honest. We don’t need to know the age of the aircraft, how many gates there are in this airport, what your labor contract is, what ATC is doing, what some FAA reg provides, how many dispatchers are working on this, etc., unless you think this is what the cutomers ought to know to make their delay less onerous. Basic, simple, clear, timely communication, and a sense of what you are doing (like being locked up in some puddle-jumper for hours on end) is what you would want someone else to do for you were you in the same predictament. I would call this customer service, something that seems sorely lacking.

    As was pointed out, no one wants these delays, and to be fair, all the communication in the world ain’t going to change some of the things happening. OK. But, until the industry understands what the traveling public wants–wise and timely communication–and, and, the will to do things that the customers want even when those things may not have been what the airline would have done otherwise.

    Sometimes the airlines do get it. I’ll long remember the Lufthansa pilot at Zurich who took the time and made the effort to come up to the gate-wait area and explain, in both German and Brit-English, to us delayed passengers, what was going on and why the delay. Didn’t get us moving any faster but a wonderful show of concern for the travelers.

    To avoid any more of these questionable regulations, the airlines simply must demonstrate face-to-face they really do care.

    • I completely understand your point, but your suggestion isn’t quite as easy as it would beem to appear.

      Some passengers are going to want exactly what you stated.

      Some passengers will think that too much info, or too complicated.

      Some passengers will think it’s too little or too basic.

      Some passengers will think that anything that the airline says is BS, and not believe any of it.

      With such a wide spread of passenger expectations, desires, and preferences, what’s an airline to do, since not everyone will satisfied, in one way or another? It’s kind of a no-win situation.

      Don’t get me wrong–I’m all for putting out info, but how does one satisfy everybody, or at least, the majority of the folks?

      • ELN says:

        Just because you will not be able to please everyone does not mean that you should not even attempt it. The point is, the airlines can provide information that will please more people than it is doing now.

        By providing *no* information, you are unwittingly playing directly against human psychology, which generally causes more irritation. People like to know that they are in process, and that there are professionals in charge that are working on a solution to their problems. They do not like being left in limbo as they then feel that they need to either take matters into their own hands or are helpless to do anything, both of which lead to more anger and irritation.

        There will always be the outlier that will be furious no matter what you do, but you should not base your customer service on satisfying all outliers. You just need to serve most of your customers to an adequate level.

        In determining how much or how little information needs to be conveyed, this is not as hard as it may sound. There are many marketing and customer service models/techniques that can be applied (in fact, many people within the airline marketing and communication departments probably possess this knowledge and only need to be leveraged) that are common best practices in communication and customer service. Surveys, interviews, customer profiles, conjoint analysis, etc. can all be used to determine what the best message is to give to customers to target the best consumer response for the most people.

      • Dispatcher, First thank you for your hard work. I used to work in managing trucking, while nowhere near as complex it does have some of the same problems and concerns as your job.

        I’ve long thought that the right data is available in the airline business, its just not in the right hands. I had a friend that had a Delta flight that was diverted for mechanical reasons. The airline’s data that was pushed to customers was horrendous. I was actually able to get more information than the front line staff at the airport or the telephone staff. (If you’re interested see The Attack of Terrible Airline Data!. I know dispatchers themselves might not be able to generate this data, but I think a small team that had access to their data could generate intelligible explanations for customers that’d meet most of their needs.

        As ELN mentions, you’re not going to make them all happy, but you can get 98% of them happier, which would be a great help.

  12. Allan says:

    I love this blog because reading it gives me the airlines perspective on things.

    • I appreciate that, and I can readily assure you (and everyone else) that airline employees DON’T wake-up every day and wonder how they can doink things up for all the passengers once they get to work. We like stuff on-time too, and a good day is when stuff of on-time and the phone isn’t melting in its cradle with incoming problems that need resolution.

  13. lunogled says:

    A very simple question:
    Why is it that the 7+ hour delays never EVER happen in Europe? The only similar instance I heard of is in Heathrow, during an unofficial strike of airport personnel. It certainly never happened due to “bad weather”. Delays do happen, but passengers stuck for hours in airplanes I never heard of.

    “coincidentally”, Europe does have passengers right regulations which are much more stringent than in the US (compensation is mandatory for weather-related delays, even in the volcano case).
    Oh, and European low-cost tickets are generally much cheaper than US low-cost ones.
    Something is fishy here.

    • CF says:

      I think there are a couple reasons why those delays don’t happen in Europe. First, they have far less severe weather in Europe than there is in the US so they don’t seem the same type of flight disruptions. Second, the distances are shorter so it’s easier to cancel flights and put someone on a train. This is simply speculation.

      As for passenger rights legislation – that’s unrelated. Europe didn’t have these kinds of problems before that went into place.

      European low cost tickets are not actually cheaper – it’s just a different model. The base price is low but the fees are incredibly high so in the end, it all evens out.

      • Maarten says:

        Cranky – as a European, and a frequent flyer with a lot of experience with intra-Europe travel (I have been based in Amsterdam, London and Berlin) I am going to have to agree with you.

        The distances in Europe are no different then those in the US. London to Istanbul takes 4.5 hours. London – Paris about 1 hour (same as say NY – Boston). We have rain (England!), snow (Scandinavia, NW Europe), ice (see snow), fog (Milan!!! North of England!), wind (NW Eu, but possible anywhere). We do not have the poor radar system the US has, but we have (I believe) 27 separately managed national air-spaces, each managed by an individual, national air management system.

        So the distances are not shorter per se, but most of the travel takes place in West Europe (a little bit like the East Coast). The train systems are OK within most countries, but international hi-speed rail travel is still in it’s infancy. Plus it is about as unreliable as air travel when severe weather strikes: witness the people that were on the Eurostar for (I believe) up to 7 hours with no food, water or even lights during the snow storms of February of this year.

        So I think the biggest difference is first of all less of a crazy congested schedule at most airports. Yes, some of them are seriously crowded, which is why we avoid them for connections (Charles de Gaulle, any London airport, Frankfurt). And then there is indeed the Airline Code which has been implemented across the EU much to the chagrin of for instance Ryanair.

        Perhaps however the biggest differentiator is more common sense. I have a friend who flies for a Dutch airline (he captains 737’s) and he shakes his head in disbelief about some of the excessive stories we have heard of here in the US. He says that as captain he simply would never let things get that far out of hand. He would, as he puts it, be a captain of the flight and figure out a resolution. Easier said then done of course as he is not in the situation his US counterparts found themselves in. But I do think that “common sense” and “not taking each answer as definitive” has some value.

        Anyway, just wanted to add my perspective…

        • CF says:

          Maarten – Good conversation. The distances in Europe are far different than in the US. London to Istanbul is 1,565 miles while LA to JFK is 2,475 miles. But as you mention, most of the travel takes place in western europe where the differences are even shorter. London and Paris compared to New York to Boston is fine, but that’s an outlier in the US.

          Look at something like Pittsburgh to Philly and Paris to Amsterdam. They’re similar in distance, but there is only one train a day from Pitt to Philly and it takes over 7 hours or you can connect through Washington once a day for 10 hours. Paris and Amsterdam aren’t well connected and require a stop in Brussels, but trains run all day long and take about 4 hours even with the connection. There are countless cities in the US that don’t even have rail at all. Look at Phoenix, one of the largest cities in the US. Trains don’t even go to Phoenix but rather stop 50 miles south of town in Maricopa, on rare occasions. The option just isn’t there for much of the US.

          As for weather, Europe does not have the same kind of severe weather we have here in the US. I’m talking about thunderstorms, tornadoes, the kind of things that are normal from spring through summer throughout the central and eastern US.

          I’m not saying that these are the sole reasons for it happening, but there is also a lot more air travel in the US in general. Considering how infrequently someone gets stuck for that long on the ground, it could just be a simple issue of volume.

      • Majuba says:

        Reviving an old conversation on a tangent:

        • Majuba says:

          Reviving an old conversation on a tangent:
          “European low cost tickets are not actually cheaper – it’s just a different model. The base price is low but the fees are incredibly high so in the end, it all evens out.”

          I’ve been checking out flights from U.S. to Europe (London/Frankfurt mostly) for a trip next year, and the fees seem to have absolutely skyrocketed recently. Just 3 years ago I could easily get a flight for $600. Now the fees (I think the airport fees) are higher than that. When/what/why did this happen? Any way around this?

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