My Rant: What is the economic impact of flight delays on airlines…and passengers?
What is the probability of people not showing up that justifies airlines overselling flights? That is the question I asked myself as Princess One and I stood outside the gate as we watched passengers on “our flight” board, including The Husband and Princess Two.
Actually Princess One and I had boarded just to learn our rows did not in fact exist. We were seated in row 14, yet the rows on the airplane went from 1-12 and then 20-31. We were not alone in this debacle, which delayed the flight over an hour.
I soon learned United changed the plane, so the flight wasn’t actually oversold but there were no longer enough seats. Had the ticketing agent shown up prior to 10 minutes before boarding to help the 10-15 individuals many of whom did not have seat assignments much of this could of been avoided, including six flight delays. Yes, six, just keep reading. However, when she did grace us with her presence, she assigned seats to several people who did not have seats, many I believe were on stand-by.
Her tardiness, lack of communication or lack of checking her flight information caused the following:
1. Six people who purchased tickets no longer had seats and could not get out of town until the following day. Note, airlines are required to pay for lodging costs of passengers if the delay or a cancellation is through their own fault, but not if the cause is beyond their control, such as weather.
2. Two people who were on the the flight volunteered to give up their seats for a $500 vouchers, first class seats on their next flight and lunch vouchers. (Six people had gotten up to volunteer but four went back on when they learned they couldn’t leave until the following day.)
3. The flight was delayed over an hour.
4. Due to #3 at least five other flights were delayed to await for 5-10 passengers who were on our flight.
You’ll be glad to know Princess One and I were able to be seated thanks to the volunteers. However as I sat on the flight I began wondering what the economic impact of flight delays are on airlines…and passengers?
Just what is the economic impact of flight delays on airlines…and passengers?
After a little research I found a very interesting survey: Flight delays cost $32.9 billion, passengers foot half the bill. The cost to individuals in lost time and inefficiency was $16.7 billion, the study says. Only a small fraction of travelers — ones who miss connections or whose flights are canceled — suffer about half of that cost.
The research, which was funded by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2010 that reviewed data from 2007; I was not able to find more recent figures/data so if you know of them please do share. The study also found that when the aviation system slows down, it creates a significant drag on the economy. Delays reduced the nation’s gross economic output by $4 billion in 2007. They also cost airlines $8.3 billion.
While delays declined in 2007 as airlines cut schedules and the economy reduced the number of travelers, the report predicted or rather warned flight delays can come roaring back when the economy improves. Gee, those researchers at the University of California-Berkeley, University of Maryland, George Mason University and Virginia Tech and MIT just might be right.
Happy travels and I hope you make your flight/s.