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Travel Tip: How Airline On-Time Performance is Measured

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airportHow is airline on-time performance measured or determined?

The answer might surprise or even anger you.

If a plane pushes back within 15 minutes of its scheduled departure time, it’s considered on time.

What this means is that a plane can push back from the gate, wait on the tarmac for three hours, and still be considered on time.

This is absurd, and a completely useless measurement because it doesn’t reflect true on-time performance.

But until that criteria is changed, you should be worried about something else.

Airlines will do just about anything to push back on time.

Many airlines are now saying they’re closing the door to the jetway 10 minutes before scheduled departure time.

They’re also pressuring gate agents to comply.

This constitutes a literal “hurry up and wait” situation where you race to get on the plane just so it can push back—even if it’s not going anywhere.

But that’s the game these days as airlines jockey for the right to say they’re number one in on-time performance.

Now if the airlines could only take off—or even better—arrive on time.

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