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December 10, 2008

Just 50 long tarmac delays in October

For the first time, the DOT is reporting on tarmac delays of three hours or longer in its monthly airline performance report. In the October report, issued today, the DOT identified 50 flights that sat on airport tarmac for three hours or more, out of 554,325 flights total.

That's a pretty miniscule number. But travel analyst Terry Trippler points out in his video blog that it doesn't mean much until we have a few months on record for comparisons. He also correctly states that Kate Hanni of the Coalition for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights deserves a lot of credit for pushing the DOT to include this data.

Of the 50 tarmac delays reported, 24 of them were on regional carrier ExpressJet, and 12 were on Continental. The rest were spread around the remaining carriers.

- Trebor Banstetter


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What's the difference between this and the taxi-out times that BTS has been reporting for years?



Eric - Great question. Apparently the DOT has defined "tarmac delays" more broadly than the previous reports on taxi-out time. The new info includes data on flights that were diverted prior to the tarmac delay, for example, which weren't previously included in the taxi-out delay numbers.

Diversions tend to account for some of the longer tarmac delays, so these numbers are meant to be more representative of the problem.


hmm, that's 5000-10,000 passengers involuntarily confined on aircraft over 3 hours per month or up to 120,000 per year. What a great improvement over an estimated 160,000 in 2007!

Now at least the most serious delays are being counted instead of DOT and the airlines pretending such extreme delays do not exist except when they make national headlines.


I've never heard of Greyhound having this problem. Maybe those upset over "involuntary confinement" should consider that option next time they have a need to travel long distance.

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