Tarmac “Malaise”: Gone for Good?

In the days leading up to, and immediately after, the implementation of the Department of Transportation’s tarmac delay rule, I was constantly asked how I thought it would work. Didn’t I think there would be lots of cancellations? Didn’t I think this was a solution in search of a problem? One cynic asked whether we were supporting it as a way (somehow) to add to airports’ food and beverage revenue?

My answer was always that airlines and airports would work together to find ways to adjust to the rule. I admit a certain amount of hope and faith were involved in the answer, but I did believe that this would happen.

Planes waiting on the tarmac: a thing of the past?

An article in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal by Scott McCartney, along with figures released by DOT and anecdotal experience, indicates my hopes and my faith were well placed. As McCartney notes, “…airports and airlines have worked hard to put systems into place to comply with the new rule. In the end, passengers may get more reliable transportation.”

Most regulations like this are designed to react to some extreme examples of distress and are designed, by nature, to influence behavior. Seems to be working that way, so far. For one, I am not surprised that my industry has stepped up to the challenge, and given past experience with rules like this in a variety of other industries, I am not surprised the airlines have either.

I think this is a time when airports and airlines can be proud of how they’ve responded to this challenge.

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One thought on “Tarmac “Malaise”: Gone for Good?

  1. I just made it home from a grueling day of travel. It was supposed to be a quick turnaround from Atlanta to Kansas City, interview some candidates and get back by 7. Storms in Atlanta however changed that and the flight was a little over 3 hours past its scheduled time for departure and subsequently arrival in Atlanta.

    But what a commendable job everyone involved did during the day. Let’s start with ATC in Atlanta for stopping operations as I understand twice. For the Delta customer service agents in Kansas City for keeping us informed and then loading the plane with humor and a great attitude in a very short window and the flight crew of flight 1250 that worked to travel as fast and safely as they were allowed.

    Finally what a spectacular sight at 9:30 on approach to see the bank of planes on approach landing 3 at a time, perfectly spaced throughout the night sky as we vectored to the runway. To the air traffic controllers who kept up with it all and produced that ballet a huge thank you.

    As I walked through the terminal in Atlanta, there were the usual long faces weary from the trials, the disgruntled travelers who were thinking the airlines were singling them out and making their travel miserable.

    A long time ago, I realized that flight delays are just a part of life, like traffic jams especially when weather is involved. The only requirement that I put on air travel is that we land safely. That is sometimes lost on us when we are tired of waiting and late for obligations. But it is all that matters. So thanks to all who made it happen today, you rock.

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