There are several things you may hear on, or about a flight that MAAAAAAY not be 100% the truth…
- “Turn off all large electronics or it may interfere with the avionics of the plane.” (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve inadvertently left my laptop on. OK, it’s sleeping, not ON on, but still, it’s not OFF either)
- “Oh sure, if you gate check it here at the gate, it’ll be waiting for you when you get off the plane, just like strollers and wheelchairs that are gate checked.” (years ago, a gate agent told me that. I was an idiot and believed her).
- Early October, 2021: “Our ongoing countrywide meltdown of cancelled flights here on Southwest aren’t due to lack of pilots. It’s because the FAA is having problems getting enough air traffic controllers.” The FAA’s response to that:
Shade officially thrown @SouthwestAir’s way
— CBoardingGroup: Travel | Remote Work | Gear (@CBoardinggroup) October 10, 2021
Best reply from a government entity ever. And well done, CBoardingGroup! 😉
Don’t get me wrong – I’m well aware that just about everyone lies at work every once in a while. Pilots are no exception.
Sure, for basic, simple, expected stuff – stuff you heard on just about every flight – they’re going to tell the truth. Their name, the name of the first officer, if there’s a chance for turbulence, etc. All of that is surely the real deal. But for one particular thing – something that may not happen every flight, but happens, well, a lot, I’d suspect the captain isn’t telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Here’s an example of the fib – can you catch it?
Folks, this is your pilot, Captain Jamie. You may have noticed that we were supposed to take off about 10 minute again, but we’re still sitting here on the tarmac. I do apologize for the delay, but we’re experiencing a problem with the fuel system and we have to have to wait for maintenance to fix the issue before leaving.
(45 minutes later…) Folks, this is your captain again. Maintenance was able to fix the fuel pump and we’ll be on our way as soon as the fuel truck gets here to fill up our tanks.
(15 minutes later…) Hi folks, this is your captain again. We’re all ready to go so please buckle your seat belts. I do apologize once again for the delay, but we’ll be able to make up the time once we’re in the air. Flight attendants, please prepare for takeoff.
Did you find the fib? No? This is it: “We’ll be able to make up the time once we’re in the air.”
No, they won’t. Chances are awesome that, with an hour delay, they’re going to be late.
True, there are some things the pilot can do to shave time off a flight:
- They can request a shorter taxi time before takeoff from Air Traffic Control (shorter than planned taxi time can mean an earlier arrival)
- They can request “direct routing” (read: shortcuts) from Air Traffic Control (But remember that plane routes are already optimized to go the shortest and cheapest route possible [like how Hawaiian and United maneuver to not fly over Mexico]).
- They can go faster (so much for the environment) but even that won’t take a significant amount of time off a flight (it also uses up more fuel, which may be sorely needed, especially towards the end of a longer flight).
- Speed of the wind (either a stronger wind going with you, or less wind against you) can always help you land earlier than anticipated, but neither the pilot nor air traffic control have any control over that – that’s just the luck of the weather gods’ dice.
So anything the pilot may try to do many only save a plane a few minutes – maybe 10 minutes or so on a long haul. 20, if you’re lucky. But if your delay has been a significant amount of time, say 30 minutes or more, the pilot may TRY to make up all the time once they’re in the air, but chances are excellent that they won’t.
So any pilot who says they’ll be able to make up the time once they’re in the air? Unless it’s more than just a few minutes, they’re a liar liar pants on fire.
Feature Photo: Tristan Schmurr / flickr
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