Why Do Airlines Wait Until The Last Minute To Delay Flights?

Happy Friday, or in other words, “Day where I get to vent about my Travel Pet Peeves.”

We just returned from a trip to Texas where we got to visit our favorite hotel employee, ate at some of our favorite restaurants and even were able to see the bats come out from under the South Congress Bridge in Austin for the first time ever. (Note from Sharon: Um, HELLO! And we went to Buc-ee’s!!!) So why did the last part of our trip frustrate me so much?

I have enough information at my fingertips when traveling so I can know when things aren’t going well. During this trip, we were spending time at the airport with our traveling buddies, so I wasn’t keeping track of our flight home. If I was, I would have noticed that our departing flight was running late.

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With an incoming flight running 90 minutes late, the delay for our flight was imminent but I didn’t notice it until I saw the gate information change. Right after that, I checked the Frontier app. They showed me the updated flight information.

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Since the flight wasn’t due to land until 6:41, a 7:23 departure was possible but would be a very quick turn around. What surprised me more was that the continuing flight from New Orleans, which we were also taking, was still showing as departing on time. I found this hard to believe as our flight was due to arrive 28 minutes after this flight’s scheduled departure time.

I knew from research before booking that these Frontier flights NEVER leave on time. The only reason I was willing to book a connecting flight on Frontier was because we’d be on the same flight the whole time. So if our inbound flight was delayed, our connecting flight would also be late and we’d already be on it.

Needless to say, the flight from San Antonio left right around the new scheduled, but delayed time.

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When we landed in New Orleans around 9PM, we were informed that since the airport closed at 8PM, we couldn’t get off the plane to use the bathroom or get something to eat.  The bathrooms on the plane were available for use if needed.

It took about an hour to empty and load the plane before we were on the way to Orlando. During the safety announcements, the passengers were told the flight hadn’t been catered all day so they they were running low on items like Coke, Diet Coke and Sprite as well as many of the snack packs. However, they did have alcoholic beverages to purchase, as well as mixers.

We took the bait and tried the “Red Wine Blend” and a Seltzer Water with crystalized lime flavor packet.

 

When all was said and done, we only arrived 75 minutes after our original scheduled time.

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I’m not mad that we landed at 12:30 AM instead of 11PM. I mean, if you can’t manage a 90 minute flight delay then you need to check your priorities. My problem is that it was evident we’d be delayed far in advance of when Frontier decided to update the flight information and send out notifications to everyone on the flight so they’d know of the delay. Instead of grabbing two slices from Famous Famiglia Pizza we could have grabbed a table and spent some time at the Vino Volo wine bar.

Even more aggravating was knowing that the flight from New Orleans to Orlando wasn’t delayed until we were due to board the plane in San Antonio. Those New Orleans passengers were doomed to the same fate as us, arriving at the gate for the assigned boarding time, only to be told the flight would be 90 minutes late, and they were in an airport where every amenity was closing for the evening. Not cool.

While I can fault Frontier for this instance, this isn’t a problem isolated to their airline.  I’ve had similar events happen to me on Southwest, Delta, American, United and JetBlue. While I know how to check if my flight will be delayed by things like the weather, I still get aggravated when airlines wait until the very last minute to notify us of delay flights. Do they want a angry group of passengers waiting at the gate for 90 minutes? Luckily, we grabbed a table in the food court across from our gate so we could eat our pizza (since there were no seats left near the boarding time of the flight). Spending 90 minutes writing blog posts wasn’t a total waste of time but I know we kept someone else from sitting at that table, which was unnecessary. I heard grumbling from other people on our flights who weren’t so lucky.

Why are airlines so hesitant to let passengers know about delays? What’s better about delaying a flight for 30 minutes three times or just saying it’s a 90 minute delay? Surely they know when they’ll expect the flight to leave. Do they just want people to hang around because if they announce a delay that’s too long they’ll have to re-book people who don’t want to wait?

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