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Why are airlines allowed to significantly exaggerate flight times?

Why are airlines allowed to significantly exaggerate flight times?

Old Jun 28, 22, 1:00 pm
  #31  
 
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Originally Posted by ademanuele View Post
I’m on the shuttle two to three times a month and invariably late, just arrived at LHR 🤷🏻‍♂️


Wow this is considered late in the UK? In Mexico, especially Mexico City you'd be thanking your lucky stars if a flight actually arrived or departed within 30 minutes of the scheduled time, and even thats with much more padding being more like 1 hour. On flights to and from Texas to Mexico its not uncommon to see 3+ hours scheduled time for a 1500km flight.
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Old Jun 28, 22, 1:18 pm
  #32  
 
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Originally Posted by mmogdan View Post
Curiously BA also have longer short haul turnaround times. EZY seem to use 30 minutes and Ryanair 25 minutes. One would assume the turnaround times are also padded, or does BA do anything that the others don’t which requires the extra time ?
It's down to how things are organised on the ground. For example, in Dublin, when flying Ryanair, the flight sometimes commences boarding before the inbound is even on stand. Everyone goes down the stairs until you reach the door outside and there you wait, mainly on the stairs, until the door opens and you can go onto the plane. Also, there is a disincentive to bring checked baggage due to the fees, which means there is less to load and unload, making it faster. They also have one set of catering for everyone which is loaded once in the morning to last however many flights the aircraft needs to do. Not to mention the crew are responsible for keeping the interior of the plane spic and span between flights.

Network airlines such as BA have more baggage, connecting baggage, more complicated catering to onload and offload on turnaround, which is why they have longer aircraft turns. They often also have cleaners on board between flights.

That's why there's the difference. If BA could turn them in 25 minutes, they would, as it would optimise the use of their assets.
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Old Jun 28, 22, 2:18 pm
  #33  
 
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Originally Posted by Oxon Flyer View Post
30 minutes is, quite literally, only possible on a perfect day with the wind behind.

Just picking a MAN-LHR service at random, say BA1387, and working backwards from today, the in-air times have been 40, 43, 41, 35, 29, 36, 34, 43, 37, 37, 32, 40, 36, 38, 38, 36, 35, 32, 35, 38, 38, 42, 48, 38, 42, 40 mins.

This clearly shows that the planning allowance should be at least 38 - 40 minutes. Once you add on pushback, taxi at each end and a short line-up hold, then 1h10m seems an entirely sensible assumption for the normal gate-to-gate time. Certainly not a significant exaggeration.
not true, there is a pilot who puts his foot down- have had a 24 minute flight before (with an ATC shortcut admittedly), most fly at a more economical speed though. But far from impossible.

But back on topic, can understand the frustration but it’s really not that big a deal- if you plan for the punished time and your early and a 3 hour delay to get compensation is rare on this flight.

Last edited by navylad; Jun 28, 22 at 2:30 pm
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Old Jun 28, 22, 2:47 pm
  #34  
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Originally Posted by navylad View Post
not true, there is a pilot who puts his foot down- have had a 24 minute flight before (with an ATC shortcut admittedly), most fly at a more economical speed though. But far from impossible.

But back on topic, can understand the frustration but it’s really not that big a deal- if you plan for the punished time and your early and a 3 hour delay to get compensation is rare on this flight.
What’s ‘not true’ ?
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Old Jun 28, 22, 2:51 pm
  #35  
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I think 24 minutes would be a very impressive flight time between LHR and MAN for an A320. If you look at the routing there isn't much to short cut tbh, the airways pretty much provide a direct line between the two airports.
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Old Jun 28, 22, 5:38 pm
  #36  
 
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Originally Posted by ademanuele View Post
[color=#000000]> Why are airlines allowed to significantly exaggerate flight times? .... only in the air for around 30 minutes. BA are scheduling this flight for 1 hour 10 minutes.
Is it written anywhere that the times shown are for the actual flight (airborne) time? Rather than doors closed? Chocks on/off? Moving time? An on time departure is pretty much irrelevant, it's the arrival time that matters.

In an ideal world, the plane would be parked on the runway, and the door would close at the scheduled time, and immediately spool up and take off. Then land and stop at the end of the runway to disembark. Then your "flight time" would match the schedule. Sadly, this is a fantasty.

Air travel is not train/car/bus travel. Travelling by plane has MANY stages - safety briefing, cargo loading, de-icing, paperwork, taxiing etc. You CANNOT close the door and take off. And the airlines don't promise that. So why should the schedule only show the (variable) flying time, when all the other compulsory variables will happen, 100% guaranteed. Its not in anyone's interest for the flight time to be advertised, as it's basically irrelevant to the end-to-end journey.
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Old Jun 28, 22, 10:35 pm
  #37  
 
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Originally Posted by Oxon Flyer View Post
What’s ‘not true’ ?
when stated sub 30 only ‘literally’ possible on a good day with wind behinds it’s possible with a heavy right footed chicken dipper too.

Originally Posted by KARFA View Post
I think 24 minutes would be a very impressive flight time between LHR and MAN for an A320. If you look at the routing there isn't much to short cut tbh, the airways pretty much provide a direct line between the two airports.
it was impressive, hence its my record, the route is typically out round with a little bit of length through london if on 09l/R before heading north to the west of Birmingham and sometimes round and over the top if on 05L/R, this time we were departing 27R and was then cleared direct to the beacon at 18kft. In case it matters, late night flight, between COVID lockdowns and like I say, the pilot has a reputation for going quick according to friends who’ve flown in the right seat with him.
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Old Jun 28, 22, 10:53 pm
  #38  
 
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Originally Posted by Starship73 View Post
The practice of 'padding' block times and turnaround times to aid on-time performance is very much a 'double-edged sword' for airlines. The problem is that if you pad out your schedule too much, aircraft productivity takes a hit because you end up finding each tail in the fleet can manage one fewer flight per day in the schedule, which ultimately means you need to buy more aircraft, which makes it much harder to make a profit.
This question is in BA but says airlines so I'll answer more broadly. I think an hour is the minimum with taxiing and if a busy airport is involved then there's more time for holding patterns and routing in.

The previous post captures the gist of padding well. However there has definitely been noticeable padding added on longer flight times greater than needed for flights getting in to the 3+ hour range. For example, the US, Mid-Atlantic to Vegas flights used to be 4 hours Westbound and 3 hours back, but they have an additional hour of padding on that now. Then when it leaves the gate 40 minutes late, they can "make up" the time and their stats are better. The current A3XX planes and 737 planes also have lower cruise speeds for better efficiency than their predecessors so 50-70 mph slower across a few hours adds about 10-15 minutes per hour.
​​
A couple articles mentioning both issues:
USA Today Ask the Captain​​​
BBC Airline Delays

TL;DR Yes they're definitely padding and flying slower, but it's hard to get any faster than an hour especially with a busy airport increasing holding, routing, taxiing, and ground times.

Last edited by MOC991; Jun 28, 22 at 11:01 pm
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Old Jun 29, 22, 4:02 am
  #39  
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Originally Posted by FlightDetective View Post
Also, there is a disincentive to bring checked baggage due to the fees, which means there is less to load and unload, making it faster.
ISTR that low-fare airlines also often do baggage differently. When the aircraft arrives, the departing bags are driven to the aircraft. The arriving bags are then unloaded. Then the same loaders load the departing bags. When that loading is finished and the aircraft is ready to depart, the arriving bags are then driven to the terminal and put onto the belt. This is one way in which the turnaround time can be kept down: there is only one round-trip for the baggage train between the terminal and the aircraft.

Imagine the complaints about late-delivered bags if BA were to do this on routine basis.
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Old Jun 29, 22, 6:43 am
  #40  
 
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Originally Posted by mmogdan View Post
Curiously BA also have longer short haul turnaround times. EZY seem to use 30 minutes and Ryanair 25 minutes. One would assume the turnaround times are also padded, or does BA do anything that the others don’t which requires the extra time ?
Turn times cover the time needed to clean and restock the aircraft and they also need to fit in with the take-off slots the airline has bought/had allocated. So sometimes the ground time is longer than you'd expect.

All airlines will have a minimum turn time that they think is achievable to meet the service standard they are aiming to provide.
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Last edited by fluffymitten; Jun 29, 22 at 6:49 am
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Old Jun 29, 22, 9:01 am
  #41  
 
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Originally Posted by Globaliser View Post
ISTR that low-fare airlines also often do baggage differently. When the aircraft arrives, the departing bags are driven to the aircraft. The arriving bags are then unloaded. Then the same loaders load the departing bags. When that loading is finished and the aircraft is ready to depart, the arriving bags are then driven to the terminal and put onto the belt. This is one way in which the turnaround time can be kept down: there is only one round-trip for the baggage train between the terminal and the aircraft.

Imagine the complaints about late-delivered bags if BA were to do this on routine basis.
Slightly OT, but I flew Vueling recently and most of Group 2 and 3 (they have only 3 boarding groups) were forced to gate check any large hand luggage. The tags were printed very quickly on boarding card scan and on both sectors there was an additional agent on the jetty taking the checked bags off of people.

It was a highly impressive operation leading resulting in on time departures on 100% full flights. I have seen BA in recent times load full 319/20/21's with no gate checking of bags (resulting in the easily predicted chaos onboard / late push backs).
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