Friday, October 7, 2011

Hurry up and wait

Planes frequently push back from the gate on time, but then wait 2 feet away from the gate until it is time to queue up for take-off. This increases fuel consumption, and increases the time that passengers must sit in a cramped plane awaiting take-off.

One look at the wage scale for flight crews tells you why this occurs:

The first row (per diem) indicates how much the flight crew earns once it checks into the airport, the second (holding pay) after it loads the plane, and the third (hourly wage) after it pushes back from the gate and turns on the beacon.    By rushing to load the plane, and push back from the gate, the captain earns $164/hour more than he or she does by waiting to load the plane.

It would be relatively easy to solve this problem by taking the decision on when to push back from the gate away from the flight crew and give it to the airline instead.