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Congress has finally noticed airport delays -- your diagnosis/cure?

Congress has finally noticed airport delays -- your diagnosis/cure?

Old May 18th, 2004, 12:13 PM
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cfc
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Congress has finally noticed airport delays -- your diagnosis/cure?

I love that Congress (which has its own private airport at taxpayer expense) has finally noticed that airport delays are becoming a problem. First solution is apparently for the FAA to just declare that AA and UA must reduce flights in and out of ORD by 5%. If they do that for ATL and DFW (and maybe Denver and ... and...), would that be enough or what would impact be?

Here's my own little ax to grind: stop using those consarned little regional jets for longer haul trips, which represent a foolish economy -- more trips, fewer passengers, and disincentive of a lousy "flying experience." And my other ax to grind is the whole hub system -- why can't you get a non-stop across the country unless you're starting at one of the six major coastal cities?

Yes, yes, oh Adam Smiths of the air, I know that reducing # of flights should increase prices. As much as skyrocketing (so to speak) oil prices? OK -- what are people's thoughts -- and can we make it less about economic philosophy and politics and more about just how we can get out of this mess?
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Old May 18th, 2004, 12:58 PM
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Stop telling what the airlines can do and cannot do. If regional jets is what the market wants, let it be.

Instead, upgrade the air traffic control system, and start developing the "open sky" system that's based on GPS, and not based on tightly controlle "routes" that planes have to fly, under strict air traffic control.

Cut down the red tape that limit local authorities to build more airports and more runways.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 05:29 AM
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rkkwan, since you go into the political: "Telling what the airlines can do and cannot do...." is the paying passengers' right and -- when the entire system is in danger or endangering others -- the government's obligation.

If I thought that the airlines were actually giving the market what "it" wants, I wouldn't have bothered to post this. If you have any doubts about the market's dissatisfaction about what it/we/they are getting from the airlines, consider how rapidly the market is changing.

Just because there are a lot of regional jets doesn't mean for one minute that passengers like them; it just means that the airlines decided that they would save money by using them. Ditto "less room in coach," and the hub system. When I actually have a choice at RDU not to fly a regional jet on most of the trips I must take, I certainly choose not to. But most of the time, I'm not given a choice -- and if I don't book 3 weeks ahead, there just aren't any seats, which means they COULD be filling larger planes.

The idea that price is the one and only consideration for air passengers doesn't hold up across the board. It's very important, no argument there -- which is why SW and the discounters are getting so popular. But there are lots of other considerations -- otherwise you wouldn't see options like freq. flyer mile programs and business/premier class offered by the airlines, and you wouldn't see options like "shortest flights," "departure times," "arrival times," "non-stops," etc. listed when you book on places like Orbitz or Travelocity. And, re: delays, notice how many such sites list "on-time" percentages.

I defy anyone to claim that the process and experience of flying today is better for the passenger than it was 5-10 years ago. Sure, some routes are no more expensive than they were, but the non-cross-continent routes are either relatively much more expensive or they aren't there at all. I used to have a choice of 4 airlines to fly RDU to BOS; I now have 1. Flying to some destinations non-stop from Charlotte is twice as expensive as starting from RDU and connecting through Charlotte to get to the same place. Let's see, price is so important to a Charlotte passenger that he'd be willing to drive 2 1/2 hrs., risk delays or missed connections back in Charlotte, just to halve the price? That's just nuts.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 05:39 AM
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(Woops, premature pressing of Enter key) --

So is the hub-system a required part of the air travel system? Is it inevitable that people starting on either coast must get up at quarter-of-dark a.m. to get flights that arrive roughly at midday in their connecting airport in order to get home to their other-coast airport? Are there just so few air passengers that only smaller jets now make sense?

I keep thinking it's like finding out that a city's subway system is overburdened so someone prescribes using shorter trains and smaller cars and funneling them all to 3 central stations.

Anyone have a more creative solution?

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Old May 19th, 2004, 05:57 AM
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You want creative? How about a complete overhaul of the system, charging by the mile? Never would happen, but people would boycott connecting flights when they had a non-stop alternative, and that would take care of the hubs. On the other hand, cross-continent business would come to a standstill.

The hub system is actually the same system as the FedEx air-freight-type model, in which people are packages. Seems efficient, but unlike packages, people don't enjoy being thrown up against other packages all at once in the hub terminal, and they usually prefer to get from A to B by daylight on their own timetable instead of "guaranteed by 10 am tomorrow morning." Also unlike most packages, people eat food, have to piddle, need to change position from time to time, and get bored. And unlike all but a few really demanding packages, people expect to be treated in certain ways -- sometimes with civility and thought, sometimes with groveling deference and adoration.

And unlike packages, these people are usually the same people who pay their own way and make choices about whom to fly with. They put up with abuse to a certain point to keep the prices in line, but when discount airlines are more pleasant to fly than a major, why would anyone pay the major's "matched" price?
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Old May 19th, 2004, 07:42 AM
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Oh, I thought you want us to comment about Congress! Silly me.

Anyways, I think for the long term we need a healthy airline industry with fares that make sense and service that's reliable. Letting USAir and United fail will probably be a good start. That would send a strong signal to the unions and pilots at the "majors' that they can't keep asking for higher pay and wreck their own airline.

That'd also solve the RJ problem. Airlines like Delta cannot afford the pilots who fly mainline jets, with salary making 200K a year. RJs can be flown by pilots making 35K. You wonder why hubs like Cincinnati (DL) or Cleveland (CO) are becoming RJ-only hubs.

Airlines exist for one purpose - make money by providing a service to the public. If RJs do a better job than mainline satisfying this purpose, then you get RJs.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 07:51 AM
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My suggestion would be for better rail systems so that shorter flights and car trips would be avoided. And faster overnight trips with sleeper cars so that you could arrive at your destination (of maybe up to 1000 miles) rested. We've put too many of our (transportation) eggs into one basket.

Waiting for an open gate upon arrival to the airport seems to be another frequent problem. I'm of the understanding that at Las Vegas, they (airport) will assign any gate to any airline. This makes sense for all airports.

Finally, they've go to spread out the departure times. It might mean that a 5pm flight costs a hefty premium over a 2pm or 8pm flight, but there's too much competition for limited resources during peak travel times.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 02:58 PM
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This is EZ. The airlines need to self-destruct and then rebuild themselves by charging what it takes to haul me from point A to point B and still make a profit. The public has become accustomed to subsidized air fares and the ability of the airlines, airports and air traffic controllers to keep the ensuing chaos at bay is diminishing. We do not need more and bigger airports - we need people to get over the notion that they can pay less than it costs to receive a product. This is a basis business school lesson - charge more for stuff than it costs to produce it. If people squeal, tough. Any other business which runs its affairs like the airlines quickly goes the way of the dinosaurs.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 09:17 PM
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Since the original poster brought up delays, I think there is a problem with airports that need to add runways but have nearby neighborhood groups (Suburban O'Hare Commission anyone?) fighting tooth and nail to prevent any new runways from being built. In some cases, said neighborhoods were there before the airport, but in many cases they weren't. You can't buy a house in a community next to the airport and expect it to sound like Walden's Pond.
 
Old May 20th, 2004, 06:29 AM
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Blaming local neighbors for the mess in the skies is nuts. Expanding an airport, especially one like O'Hare, won't solve the problem but will make it worse with more congestion, etc. There's just so much room overhead, for one thing, and bad weather in one place just delays so-many-more flights trying to get in and out of that same place. Making the few biggest hubs even bigger hubs just compounds the problem. (I'm thinking of all those highway studies that show that widening highways only eases congestion temporarily but then it returns, and even worse, because it draws more traffic and the feeder roads can't handle it.)

More direct flights from non-hub airports to other non-hub airports would help, I think -- like having a fish net that's pulled to create certain big knots in certain areas and leaving other areas wide open, and then pulling some of the strands out of the knots to get better coverage overall.

And although it'll never happen, I agree with the idea of conceiving of the entire transportation system as a integrated whole, encouraging ground transport for shorter distances and air travel for longer distances. In that sense, charging by the mile would be counter-productive, unless you had a multi-tiered fare structure that took into account all the various ways of traveling. Woops, never would happen, even if you could get by the people who'd think that was Sinful Socialism, you'd never be able to get enough intelligence into the bureaucracy to make it work. Neither the private nor the "public" bureaucrats are doing it now.

I'm depressing myself. Why isn't it Friday?

For the record, I despise the regional jets and only take them when the alternative would be the even-worse turboprops.
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