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Jet Blue Flight Rochester to New York City

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“. . . as you know, we have experienced a lowering of our expectations.”
-caption to a comic in newspaper referencing the lowering economic status of America.

I have never been on a rockier flight before. My computer is bouncing up and down on the eating tray as I am watching the wings of the plane flapping in the breeze like the wings of a bird through the porthole windows.

The pilot come on the loud speaker:

“I am sorry to inform you of this,” he begins in an overly dour voice. Shit, I think that he is going to say we are turning back to Rochester because of the weather conditions. “But we will not be able to serve coffee on this flight because of the turbulence.”

Whew, that was close. After more than an hour delay on the tarmac in Rochester, because the plane was not properly prepared, I was not cringing at the thought that we would not reach our destination.

Going to Maine. I need to get there quickly. I spent $170 to travel fast, it would be for too ironic for my humor to bear if the plane could not deliver me faster than the bus. There is a good chance I am going to miss my connecting flight in JFK already. Hoping to get on another, just hoping to make it to Maine somehow. Poor Chaya will be waiting for me a long time in Portland.   

I cannot figure out why this flight departed from Rochester over an hour late. There was snow on the ground and it was cold, but the weather was not a real factor. Simply put, the airline decided to de-ice the plane only after it was fully boarded by passengers. The airline decided to de-ice the plane at the precise time it was scheduled to take off. I cannot understand this. The plane sat on the tarmac all night long. The night was cold, and any foolish chap could see the icicles hanging off of the wings and sides of the airplane. It was well known that the plane would need to be de-iced – and that it would take over an hour to do so – way before take-off time.

De-icing a Jet Blue airplane in Rochester, New York.

So why did the airline wait until the plane was boarded to do such routine preparation as de-icing a plane in an Upstate New York winter?

It seemed at the time to be a simple matter of the airline failing to plan ahead, but I later learned that there was something more to it:

As far as airline statistics are concerned, a plane is counted as being on schedule if it is boarded on time. So, therefore, it is common practice for airlines to fully board their aircraft BEFORE making mechanical repairs, weather preparations, or a variety of other actions to make a plane ready to fly. If a flight is boarded on time, it is considered to be a success for the airline, even if hours of repairs need to be completed before lift off or the flight arrives late. So, therefore, airlines often wait until a plane is boarded to make routine repairs, which, in the end, probably makes the plane arrive at its destination even later than if the repairs were done in advance and boarding was delayed.

Rochester, New York in winter.

It is becoming a way of course in the USA for flights to depart late. I would say that at least 60% of flights originating in the USA that I have been on in the past few years have been delayed for some reason or another. Airline delays are now an acceptable part of flying in the USA. It is normal to sit inside of an airplane for over an hour as mechanics do work that probably should have been done way in advance of the boarding time. What strikes me as odd is that nobody seems to really complain when this happens anymore. It has become normal for flights to be delayed.

The people of the USA have lowered their expectations.

The hill can only keep going go down from here.

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Filed under: Air Travel, USA

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3126 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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