Why Do Airlines Make So Many Annoying Schedule Changes?

Delta, Schedule Changes

Over the last few years, it seems like airline schedule changes have become much more frequent. Now, on most US-based airlines, it’s extremely rare to book a flight and NOT have a schedule change. Why is this happening? My guess is that it’s all about efficiency… at the expense of customer convenience.

I consider Delta to be the king of making annoying schedule changes, so I went straight to the airline to see if I could get someone to talk to me about it. It’s been over a month since I asked and I’ve been unable to get anyone to talk. So all I can do is use the knowledge I do have and then speculate. Of course, this isn’t limited to Delta. United and American/US Airways all do it and it’s really annoying across the board. But we’ll stick with Delta here thanks to an example that impacted me and my family.

Back in December, my family booked a trip to Maui for this coming September. Most airlines usually open their flights for sale no less than 330 days before departure, and Delta is no exception. It had been selling tickets for September 2014 travel since October 2013, or two months before we booked our flights. While I don’t know if there were any schedule changes in those two months, since we booked there have been no fewer than 4 of them. Here’s the timeline.

Delta Schedule Change

Not only did flight departure and arrival times change, but so did the total flight duration. I wish I had an easy answer as to why this was happening, but I don’t. After all, there were so many changes that in the end, the final times (and I say “final” hoping nothing changes again) are within 5 minutes of the original flight schedule. So what’s the point of all this ridiculousness?

There are certainly reasons that some of these things can change. For example, the easy one is if the scheduled aircraft type changes. Some airplanes fly faster than others, so they would adjust the flight duration to match. But that didn’t happen here. It has always been a 757.

Flight duration can also change as they review historical performance. Maybe taxi times have gone down over the last few months, so Delta adjusts its times to match reality. Maybe there’s some scheduled work coming up at the airport that means that they pad times to make up for the expectation of longer time on the ground.

That certainly doesn’t explain Delta’s decision to push the flight to Maui 25 minutes later and then multiple changes later, pull it back in to the exact same departure time. That could very well be a gate issue. Delta has a lot of flights going from its gates at LAX. If it tweaks some flights, then others have to change too. It could be a flight to, say, Seattle that gets moved up because of competitive pressure. That change can cascade and impact dozens of other flights.

I just have this picture of some mad scientist sitting in a dark room in Atlanta trying to create the most efficient schedule possible every day. But there’s a problem with that. What’s a perfect fit for Delta can really, really suck for travelers. All of these schedule changes are NOT customer-friendly.

I’m starting from LA and flying nonstop to Maui for vacation, so this seems like a completely harmless change. And it is… for me. Others in my family are flying in from Phoenix, however. As these schedules have changed, it impacted their ability to connect in from Phoenix. Sometimes there was a legal connection, and sometimes there wasn’t. My parents got fed up. They’re flying Southwest in the night before. (I should point out that Southwest starts selling flights later than most airlines, but once the schedule it out there, it doesn’t change. I think that’s a technical limitation as opposed to a strategy, but it’s nice to know as a traveler that the schedule is firm.)

When you think about a business market, a half-hour change could make a big difference. But even worse are those flights that get canceled after they’ve already gone out for sale.

Back in March, we had a couple New Jersey-based Cranky Concierge clients who were flying into Rome and out of Venice during the winter holidays. They really wanted to fly nonstop so they opted to fly out of Philly because US Airways flew nonstop to both places.

Sure enough, in April, US Airways canceled the flight. It decided not to fly nonstop to Venice in the winter. They weren’t happy with US Airways, and neither was I, but all the legacy carriers do this all the time in many markets.

I understand why they do it. The airlines do a lot of forecasting and can see when flights are clearly not going to earn their keep. But you have to have some level of schedule integrity so people can feel comfortable booking your airline.

All of these schedule changes are simply frustrating. It seems to me that the pendulum has swung too far toward optimization and completely away from customer service.

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46 comments on “Why Do Airlines Make So Many Annoying Schedule Changes?

  1. Aren’t the Delta 757s that fly from LAX to Hawaii terrible?? No personal in flight entertainment (only screens in the aisle that do not work), no personal air vents, and the audio jack is a box in the arm rest that jabs into your leg. Any extra time on those airplanes is pure torture.

    1. Denise – They’re definitely not the most amenity-rich in the fleet, that’s for sure. But then again, other than Hawaiian, you won’t really find a great onboard experience flying from the west coast to Hawai’i on anyone.

  2. Yes, and…

    I’m flying Delta from JFK to YVR in a few weeks, connecting through SLC. When I originally booked the ticket, the connection on the way out in SLC was about an hour, if memory serves. Last week, I was notified that there’d been a schedule change – reducing the connection to about 30 minutes. Which is scary, given the normal chaos in and out of NY.

    I’m DL Platinum. I called and asked if they could put me on the later SLC-YVR flight, so my luggage and I would stand a better chance of getting to YVR together. The kind agent told me that if Delta only left 30 minutes, then they “knew it would be ok.” Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

    So, I did the only rational thing. I signed up to have Cranky Concierge monitor my trip.

    I get that there are rules. I also see that there are a lot of open seats on all the SLC-YVR flights that day. I could have called back and tried again, I suppose.

    It’s all just annoying.

    1. It is especially frustrating since delta policy is basically to say “you’re on your own unless it’s a 90 minute change”

  3. Southwest started changing its published schedules a couple years ago. They’ve changed my flights several times this year.

    1. Yes, I’ve had maybe five iteneralires on SW and at least two of them have had changes. Including a flight DCA-PHX-LAS-DCA booked two weeks ago that already had changes both DCA segments.

      ***** But unlike other airlines they proactively call out re schedule changes. And that is a great service.

      We have not actually talked to an agent, but receiving the phone message helps, then we get an email with the new times.

    2. Jason – Interesting. I hadn’t seen that yet, but sure enough, Southwest gave me this statement.

      Our schedule changes about every six weeks. The flight schedule is dependent on a variety of things including anticipated demand, holidays, peak travel periods, and other operational needs. We look at historical data to determine what type of schedule is needed for a specific schedule period. In addition, our schedules are published about six months out.

      It just must not happen all that often.

  4. I’m with you Cranky on airlines cancelling flights. I had JetBlue cancel a HPN-TPA flight on me last January. I had to argue with them just to get them to book me on a LGA-TPA flight for the same fare and without additional fees, including switching the return flight from TPA-HPN to TPA-LGA, and it still cost me 1/2 a day, a lot of stress, and over $100 more in additional parking fees (I can cab to HPN for cheap). It was my first time flying JetBlue, and as much as I wanted to like the airline it really left a bad taste in my mouth.

    As for airlines changing itineraries and flight times, I feel that for any change over, say, 5 or 10 minutes, the airline should give the traveler an option to cancel their itinerary or rebook to another flight at no charge. As you know, many of us specifically book flights with the idea of having safe connections or avoiding connections in certain airports, and airlines’ changes often render those attempts by travelers worthless.

  5. I always wondered why airlines (minus southwest) would put out a schedule so far in advance while knowing that they were not going to maintain it. IMO, it is simply them not keeping their vows and symptomatic of our culture. I had always thought that southwest put out their schedule later and did not change it out of principle and not out of the limitations in their system. if what you, CF, say is right then southwest may have that ability and choose it with their new systems.

    I’m aware of an instance where there was a schedule change that left the connecting flight without first class seats that had been sold.

    1. simple – cash flow. more bookings can occur in any given day if they are selling tickets for the next 330 days as opposed to the next 90. more bookings equals more revenue collection in any given day which also means increased cash flow each day and increased float (they have your cash to do whatever they want to do with it for a longer period of time).

      in other words, WN and B6 are leaving LOTS of money on the table by not extending schedules out further. constant changes and customer annoyance is a small price to pay for increased revenue collection and cash flow.

      1. ok, it does make some sense to me. However, i will disagree about the “small price to pay”. albeit without a study, fundamentals tell me that they are foregoing more cash due to inneficiencies (higher costs for prorammers, crew schedulers, reservation agents–not to speak of the cultural costs as these financial strategies/tactics are played) and lower revenue due to annoyed passengers. CFs family is an example.

        1. but cranky’s family still bought the tickets and will likely do so again. they might not be happy about it but they don’t have any other real choice, especially to hawaii.

          1. Bill – I’m guessing IO was referring to the fact that my parents simply opted to fly Southwest from Phoenix instead of flying Delta.

  6. I feel your pain Brett, I feel it. I still get it myself on a daily basis. At least you never had to deal with Fiji Airways schedule changes. Every year, twice a year, it was as though daylight savings popped up out of no where. The airline was like “OMG YOU MEAN WE NEED TO ADJUST” GOGOGOGO

    So they would file changes partially, not in full. You would get a schedule change one 1 of 4 flights, clear them all out, then 10 minutes later get another, and another. We had to apologize to clients repeatedly around that time of year, because we were emailing them every 10-15 minutes with a change of some form. They have gotten better though.. they only change once a year now!

  7. While there are legit changes as you mentioned, a lot of changes are a minute or two and they change the flight number. Why, so it now becomes a ‘new’ flight and with no operating history it will show as ‘N’ for new instead of ‘3’ for only leaving ontime 30pct of the time. It’s a good way to stay under the radar for poor performing flights.

    1. Because of frequently changing flight numbers, I often have to download the government-collected data for that airline, city pair and time of day, to figure out the on-time history.

    2. This may be partially true, but I don’t think this is the main motive. If they want better OTP, they just pad the times.

      More so, the airlines have statistical distributions on the likelihood that a particular flight will be late. For instance, I would think DL knows that on a summer Wednesday 5pm LGA-ATL on an MD-88, the flight will be late 30% of the time or something like that. So they won’t have that plane do a 35 minute turn, but rather a 45 or 50 min turn. In addition in ATL they may turn it to somewhere where less HVC will be pissed (so FLL rather than CVG).

      The same idea works for gate usage. If Departure 1 at 5pm tends to be late and Arrival 2 5:15pm tends to be early, then chances are they won’t be planned to use the same gate.

      So in making changes to aircraft flow, the flight numbers may need be changed. This is true esp. for DL and WN because they tend to use the same flight number on several domestic segments (For DL, sometimes the hub outbound/inbound retain the same flight number)

  8. I think there are a several factors at work. Cranky may remember that many years ago his employer wanted to improve its on-time performance. It promptly padded most of the schedule by about 30 minutes. I remember trying to figure out if perhaps there was a stop somewhere when the LAX-PHX schedule went from 1:20 to 1:50. Obviously that improved the on-time performance, but it certainly didn’t get travelers to their destinations any sooner!

    That is perhaps an extreme example, but if you have flights that make DOT’s hall of shame, one of the choices is alter the schedule.

    In addition on long hauls, there is some seasonal variation in actual flight times. Basically the Jet Stream moves north in the summer, and south in the winter, so the prevailing winds can change substantially from season to season. This is more obvious on long haul flights, and less obvious on flights that are routinely too far south to encounter the Northern Hemisphere Jet Stream.

    At the end of the day it probably is mostly about efficiency. How do you get the maximum revenue out of the fleet at the lowest operating cost.

  9. Most travelers cannot just cancel a flight booking if they discover they made a mistake and don’t want it anymore. There should be financial penalties when airlines decide they no longer want to fly a certain flight after they have already contracted to fly passengers on that flight.

  10. Originating from Long Beach, I have found the Delta schedule changes rather convenient when taking connecting itineraries. There’s usually enough play space between LAX, LGB and SNA to get Delta to accommodate you on a better itinerary than you had originally booked, or at least not substantially worse (no guarantees, but I’ve had reasonably good luck). Perhaps it’s because when booking a flight I tend to trade off some convenience for cost, so when a schedule change comes about there’s often some room for improvement.

    Then again, this evening I’m flying Delta out of LGB, having specifically booked this flight for convenience despite the higher fare. There have been schedule changes but they were immaterial. Tonight I have no wiggle room; so far the schedule is looking good, let’s hope it holds throughout the day :-)

  11. Cranky,

    Jason is right. I have a WN itinerary for Xmas travel, and I do have one schedule change already.

  12. @Cranky,

    I have to be honest, the worst thing with schedule changes is that the airline doesn’t really make it clear what they’re changing.

    I had booked a one-world explorer award with AA miles some nine months in advance. With this type of award, you could have up to 16 flights on one reservation.

    I had 12. I think I had 8 or 9 schedule changes before departure. Do you know what a PITA it is to go through and figure out what changed? They don’t highlight or otherwise annotate changes.

  13. I fly Delta almost exclusively and quite frequently. I, too, have received multiple notifications of schedule changes. However, unlike others, these notifications are accompanied by an offer to change the itinerary without penalty. You click on a button and a screen appears with at least a few other options, often dozens of them extending a day past the original flight. In my case, I’ve declined the offer to change flights, as the schedule shifts represent a few minutes at most and had no impact on me. Might this only be offered to high-level elites, as I am? Hard for me to tell. It seems to me that, as long as schedule changes are accompanied by an ability to change flights, they can add a bit of flexibility to a ticket that was otherwise not changeable without penalty.

  14. I almost always had a schedule change when flying DAL, and almost never on AA—at least until the merger. My AA flights would change maybe 5% of the time, now I have 3 flights on AA in October and every one of them has been changed, including a 767 changing to a 757 and my 4-hour layover in MIA that I specifically booked to give me time to watch planes, now being a 45-minute layover. The only good thing that came out of it was my 757 from MIA-MCO is now a 2-class A321.

    1. Randy – I do think we’re seeing some short term issues with AA now just because of the merger. That always results in a ton of schedule changes and it should calm down, but still I’d think we’ll see more going forward considering the new management team’s view on things.

  15. What Jeff says about Delta schedule changes and the offer to change online is true and would be wonderful if the website actually worked… when I’ve had that situation and went to actually change it, the website always errored out. So not so helpful.
    Cranky… you talk about customer service but I don’t think that such concerns still apply. Each merger brings a drop in customer service at all the airlines as the reduced compeition eases the airlines’ fears of driving people away to the competition…. where are you going to go? and the others are just as bad…. No industry shows the bad effects on customer service of lack of compeition like the airline industry.

  16. I’ve had more trouble with multiple schedule changes from United, but the result is usually the same – a 30-35 minute connection from mainline to express in Houston. At least United has been willing to rebook me on a later flight at the expense of arriving at my destination later. I’ll take that over running thru the airport to find the gate closed anyway.

    One thing I have noticed is that every time there has been a schedule change I have the option to accept the change. I try to find out my options (check schedules and flights) in a separate window prior to accepting the change so I know if I will need to call and make other arrangements. It’s still a pain in the neck (or other body parts)…

  17. I don’t have an answer to the question posed, but I do have some questions:

    Is it possible that mergers, with the attendant rearrangement and fine tuning of hubs, is contributing to the problem? I realize Southwest is completing a merger, but its operational model is different (or is it?).

    Is it also possible that airlines are doing more fine tuning to their “day of week” scheduling than is necessary because they don’t have enough real world data on which to base a more consistent schedule?

    Which of course, begs the question regarding whether or not the situation will improve. I realize this isn’t new. I had the same thing happen to me on a Continental flight which connected through Denver many years ago.

    1. DesertGhost – My thoughts on this…

      I think mergers definitely contribute to the problem during the integration. But it shouldn’t have an impact once that’s done. Of course big changes like United deciding to re-bank Chicago, etc would have a big impact too. But it just seems to be standard operating procedure.

      Not sure about the second point, but it could be.

  18. There is another thing going on at United which I find equally irritating – and that is that the schedule for a certain flight fluctuates day by day, by up to 30 minutes, and different equipment on different days, too. Before the merger if UA had an 8:15 SEA-IAD flight, it operated at 8:15 7 days a week and it was always a 752. Now it is at 8:15 one day, 7:55 the next, then 8:07 etc. and one day it might be sCO 738, the next day sUA 752, and the next day sUA A320 and then a sCO 739. I imagine either they are trying to optimize capacity and fleet utilization day by day, but it is kind of more convenient to know that the schedule on SEA-IAD is 8:15, 1:20 and 10:20.. at least I like that a lot better than the daily adjustments.

  19. You say it’s about efficiency. Go back to the orginal schedules, before they are changed. So often, from a customer’s standpoint, the original schedules make little sense.

    Sorry, UAL, I rant again. Take the morning nonstop from Dulles to Las Vegas. That nonstop has been operating forever, but….take August. Some days it’s flight 405. Some days it’s 796. Others, its 1002, or 1609, or 1634, or 1679, or 1714. Some days it’s an A320. Others it’s a 752, or a 738, or a 739. Some days it leaves at 750a. Others, at 755a, or 805a, or 810a, or 815a.

    Then, during the same timeframe, there are various 1-stop, change-of-gauge flights–Dulles to Las Vegas. Flight 587, or 1124, or 1189, or 1207, or 1189, or 1623. Anyone still remember what flight number they originally booked?

    The arrival times at LAS on these flights, who cares. The times are all so padded, what difference does it make. On-time percentage? Pure garbage!

    Remember when flights seemed sort of majestic? It stood out, like it really meant something. Wasn’t UA’s daily morning nonstop, Dulles to SFO, always UA51, same type aircraft, same departure and arrival times, ever day, every week! Great!

    Of course, my favorite about UA, of which I’ve complained to them and DOT on several occasions, is that anytime you see a 1-stop flight listed by UA, not a change-of-gauge flight, mind you, just a pure 1-stop flight, well…so you think you’ll just sit through the intermediate stop..no big deal. Haha! . Well, at least from the 3 DC area airports, I detailed, which I’m sure UA Customer Care still can’t believe anyone would go to such lengths, that on almost 50 percent of those 1-stop, so-called no change-of-plane flights, you actually did have to change planes. I’m not talking about weather diversions, mechanicals, stuff beyond UA’s control, at least from what UA allows me to see. No, “We do whatever we feel like doing! OK, so we said we wouldn’t make you change planes, but we did. What are you going to do about it!

    Yes, maybe all airlines do this, and maybe WN, your competitor there, does it a lot. I don’t know, but aren’t you supposed to be better than your competition? [“Excuse me, dear customer. You’ve got us confused with someone who cares, or at least, used to!”]

    1. Regarding UA’s 1-stop flights I have at least got an explanation for you. It’s not going to make you feel a lot better about the 1-stops that are published, but at least you might understand. It has actually go to do with being able to reuse the flight numbers. Because of UA’s express operations and code-share partners, they only have 2000 flight numbers to work with, actually 1999, flights 1-1999. All the flight numbers in the range 2000-9999 are used by UA Express or by code-shares. sCO operates flights 1-199 and 1000-1699, I believe, sUA operates flights 200-999, and flights in the range of 1700-1999 are charters, extra sections, ferry flights, and other off-schedule flights. Well they have more mainline flights than can be accommodated by the available flight numbers, so they reuse the flight numbers by using the same flight number for a later flight segment from the first flight’s arriving city without necessarily having any expectation that the second flight will be operated by the same aircraft nor intending to market the flight as a through-flight. In fact, often the layover times are excessive. However, it is certainly confusing for customers, and it can create drawbacks in areas like upgrades. Best thing is generally never to book one of these 1-stop flights.

      1. I understand your explanation but it has always been a pet peeve of mine when a direct flight has a change of aircraft planned in to it. When I used to work for an airline (in computers, not operations or scheduling), we either had nonstops or direct flights with the same flight number or connections. There should certainly be some relatively easy solutions (for those that don’t have to do the work) like having a five digit flight number or keep the four digit field and use alphanumeric flight numbers (that may include letters). This just reminds me of the Year 2000 effort the computer industry went through successfully, albeit it was a lot of work. (I had to fix some of my own routines!)

        1. I think that your five digit numbers would have to be on the feeder airlines, not the mainline. The reason is the full ATC call sign can only be seven digits long and all of the air carrier call signs are three letters, leaving only four numbers available for the rest of the call sign. I say the feeders could do it now because they kind of already do. Say if Jet-Link is flying for UAL, there UAL flight number might be 4532, however, their call sign in ATC is actually BTA532. With few exceptions, they never use the first number of the mainline flight number.

  20. Dan took the words right out of my … computer. Delta does the same thing. I get a little red notice at the top of my itinerary saying one or more of my flights have changed, but no indication of what changed. So I stare at the thing, and it all looks the same to me, and I dig up the e-mail receipt and there’s a schedule change of 3 minutes or something equally ridiculous. Why can’t they tell me what the heck they did? Why is the burden on the customer to figure it out?

    1. I can tell you that when Delta does have a change in itinerary and you log onto your account that only if the change impacts a connecting flight so that you have less than 30 min to connect or the flight is cancelled do you get the option to change it. This does not matter what status you are on Delta all persons get the chance to change it right there. I have also noticed that when you log in you don’t see what changed only what the new time is. Bu,t I always get that email telling me that I have a schedule change and the original time is crossed out and the new time is showed in the email.
      I can also tell you I travel on Delta at least 5 times a month and 3 out of 5 times I usually get one of these little emails. The last 2 that I got came on the same day for 2 different flights. The first was informing me that my flight was cancelled while the other one for the flight I had 3 days later told me that one of my flight times changed and I was going to miss my connection so I needed to be re-booked.

  21. “Flight duration can also change as they review historical performance”

    Actually, the first thing I thought about was varying weather patterns. During the winter the jetstream dips south and westbound flights take longer. Conversely, eastbound flights really move. I recall a winter HKG-SFO flight during which the captain came on to announce some incredible ground speed and that we would be landing in SFO almost two hours early. He jokingly guaranteed “Connections will not be an issue!”

    1. That would explain why the flight duration varies at different times of the year. It’s not applicable to the case Cranky describes where the flight duration on a certain date in September keeps changing.

  22. This is why I won’t fly Delta if I have to make a connection. I booked a trip to Asia and Delta decided to cancel the flight over the day we were booked on it. They could not provide an alternative that got us there within 48 hours. They refunded my ticket costs but fares are much higher now than when I booked and I have non-refundable hotels and other costs I may have to eat if prices do not drop. Trip insurance (at least what you get with the CSP) is not helpful in this situation. I lost a lot of trust in Delta in this situation.

  23. At least Delta is giving you guys notifications. I’ve had schedule changes on United, and they didn’t give any notification at all. I logged into United for some reason, happened to glance at my reservations, and noticed that I had a short connection at EWR that, while legal, was nothing I’d ever book. Sure enough, there was a change since when I booked it.

    I agree with the chorus, that when we do get notification, it should include some indication of what the changes were. I’ve also stared at the screen trying to piece together all the changes.

  24. Cranky, since this is a customer service related post. I’m wondering if there is any sort of compensation a traveler is eligible for because of these schedule changes. I’m also curious how you resolved the issue for your clients.

    I remember many years ago Delta tinkered with my flight and made my connection “illegal”, which extended my travel time. I complained and they changed me to a non-stop.

  25. Look at this I think the worst thing about it is that you got notified four times about changes in the flight when ultimately the final changes had no material effect. (The biggest net difference is six minutes, which is a rounding error.)

    If airlines want to tinker with their schedules this and of such a small magnitude much they should do it, but not notify customers until say two months before their flight date. Larger changes should of course be notified immediately, but realistically DL should’ve just made these changes, then notified you in July, and it’d be one schedule change which wouldn’t’ve been any worry.

    Good customer service is knowing when to take care of something and not bother the customer. An airline could take the Apple/Netflix approach and just give one option of only notifying customers of larger changes until a certain date, or the Microsoft/Hulu approach of giving customers multiple options, but setting a sane default.

    IMHO, airlines have made the easy (and wrong IMHO) choice to just provide all the information as it gets changed. I’ve written about the need for better filtering of customer notifications of active flights in a blog entry from several years ago: http://www.inmff.net/peidm/2008/03/13/the-attack-of-terrible-airline-data/

    Airline IT folks should figure out sane filters for customers and put them in place. I don’t care if a flight is one minute early or three minutes late. I really don’t care if the flight I booked for nine months in advance is now scheduled twenty minutes earlier, but then I’ll learn in two months that its back to almost the original schedule. I do care if its an hour earlier, or if I have to go through a different hub to connect, or if the plane has made an emergency landing in the birthplace of warp drive. Anything else? Deal with it on your own, and tell me when I need to know, but not a moment before.

  26. This very question was addressed recently in our travel agency by our airline sales rep. She mentioned that (most) airlines put out a schedule about 11 months in advance in the GDS since they generally know when/where they’ll be flying. From my notes, she mentioned that some factors that drive schedule changes include the following: 1) changes in scheduled flight times (season/wind factors, re-analysis of historic flight time data to maintain on-time compliance); 2) changes to airline bank times; 3) proposed airport construction projects (limiting/reducing the number of flights or facility space an airline can accomodate or increasing scheduled total flight times); 4) the number of aircraft in a fleet (retirements of older aircraft or maintenance projects required); 5) lauch or retraction of an airline route to be competitive in the industry; 6) adjustments to the size/type of aircraft scheduled to fly based on customer sales demand (which can change based on season or special events like conventions) on a route; 7) the fact different aircraft types need different amounts of time to be cleaned/catered/re-fuled/boarded; 8) industry/regulatory changes (pilot shortages and crew duty time rules at regional airlines,etc.) that impact how many flights their companies can fly. These were just some of the ones I jotted down. She also mentioned that they try to have a schedule locked-in (2-3 months) prior to when the majority of folks book tickets. Schedule changes primarily impact the long-range leisure bookings (versus when many business travelers book reservations – typically…not always, of course).

    I hope these notes help shed some light on your topic.

  27. Yes… I find it ironic that you comment on the stability of Southwest’s schedule when in fact, over the past week they seem to be going through some major adjustment as the internet is ablaze with folks commenting about schedule change calls from them (myself included!).

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