Airlines also must be aware of tarmac delays, as the Department of Transportation requires airlines to give domestic passengers a chance to get off after a three-hour post-pushback delay.“At the end of the day, we don’t want to get anywhere near three hours,” Huegel work during a duty period.
If a pilot or flight attendant is coming up against the time limit, and the airline still wants to operate the flight, it may dispatch the airplane sooner." data-reactid="57"Pilot and flight attendant work hours matter, too.
Every airline has aircraft slated for overnight maintenance in certain cities, so if an aircraft must get to Houston for late-night work, it may depart on time, no matter who is onboard or how bad the weather.
Some, like American, use a mix of human and computer-made decisions to choose the best outcome.
Others, like Southwest Airlines, rely more on a machine — Southwest has what it calls the Baker Tool, named after a long-time employee — to get it right.
“If we know we can reasonably move our customers on another flight, we will make a flight adjustment,” he said.
“The more frequencies we have, the easier it is to re-accommodate our customers.”Both airlines also look at connecting passengers, and where they’re going.
Federal guidelines limit how much pilots and flight attendants can work during a duty period.
If a pilot or flight attendant is coming up against the time limit, and the airline still wants to operate the flight, it may dispatch the airplane sooner. Some of the smallest American Eagle regional jets cannot land in the worst weather, so the airline must cancel them or delay them until conditions improve.Even if it’s profitable flight, American may not fly an aircraft from Chicago to New York if it fears the airplane will get stuck at La Guardia for hours.Late in the day, airlines start to look at factors they might not have examined in the morning, Southwest’s West said.“We have 700 airplanes that we have to align every night,” West said. During irregular operations, pilots and flight attendants get out of position, and airlines ferry them on passenger flights so they can pick up their next departure.If an airline needs a crew to fly an important flight the next morning, the inbound flight may go on time.On a popular route, American might fly 10 or more times a day, so even though Los Angeles to New York carries important customers, American might cancel one frequency to protect the rest of the schedule, especially if it can easily rebook customers.