Back at the end of April, the rule enacting massive fines to airlines who keep people on an airplane on the ground for more than three hours went into effect. The Department of Transportation just released May’s results and the numbers show that more travelers were inconvenienced. Have you been reading articles about how ground delays are way down? Those aren’t looking at the whole picture. There were fewer ground delays than the previous year, but cancellations were up significantly.

On-time percentage in May 2010 was 79.9 percent across all reporting airlines. It was 80.5 percent in 2009, so it was comparable in that respect. Then we look at cancellations. In 2010, 1.24 percent of flights were canceled. Back in 2009? It was only 0.88 percent. Had the May 2009 rate held through in 2010, nearly 2,000 fewer flights would have been canceled in May of this year. If you assume an average of 100 people on a flight, you get almost 200,000 people who were inconvenienced this year that wouldn’t have been inconvenienced last year. Many have said that it was a small increase in cancellations. That seems pretty big to me.

Now, let’s look at the number of lengthy ground delays. In May 2009, there were 34 flights stuck on the ramp for more than 3 hours. This year, there were 5. If we stick with that 100 passenger per flight number, then we’re at 3,400 people who weren’t sitting on a plane on the ground for more than 3 hours this year. Remember, that compares to an increase of nearly 200,000 people who were inconvenienced by cancellations. Let me put this in a pretty picture:

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  • Cranky Flier

    My name is Brett, and I’m an airline dork. I’ve had the bug since I was young. As a kid, I never missed a chance to go to LAX a…

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