Why Airlines Make Flights Longer On Purpose

Why Airlines Make Flights Longer On Purpose

Flights are much longer than they were a few decades ago. For example, in 1973, a flight from New York City to Houston, Texas, was only two and a half hours long. However, the same flight takes almost four hours today.

Why does it take longer to fly the same distance? The simple answer is fuel efficiency.

Fuel is very expensive and airlines can save millions of dollars a year by flying more slowly. In less than 20 years, the price of aircraft fuel has gone from about eight US cents per litre to over 50 cents per litre. In 2008, when fuel prices reached $1.03 per litre, the airline JetBlue saved about $13.6 million by adding less than two minutes to each of its flights.

Fuel costs are also the reason that airlines are trying to make planes weigh less. This involves changes to the planes themselves, such as using lighter materials, and charging more money for luggage.

Schedule Padding & Push Back Time

Flights may also feel longer because of something called “schedule padding,” which is when an airline adds a few minutes to the expected arrival time to seem more punctual. For example, your ticket might show a 10:30 a.m. arrival, while the actual arrival time is 10:15 a.m.

A reason for this could also be an increase in airport congestion as airports have simply got busier and busier. Sometimes it can take 10-15 minutes for the aircraft to taxi from the stand to the end of the runway. Departure times are normally based on the moment the aircraft “pushes back” from the gate.

Airlines flying within the European Union (EU) have another reason to arrive on time


Free Flight Claim Check

Since February 2005, anyone flying to or from an EU airport has been able to receive up to about £540 or €600 if their flight is more than three hours late.

Flight delay compensation amounts are set by EU Regulation 261/2004. The amount you can claim depends upon length of the delay and the flight distance.

The amount is not dependent upon how much you paid for your ticket and every passenger is eligible for compensation including claims for child passengers. The level of compensation available for valid (airline name) flight delay claims is set out below:

Flight Delay Compensation Amounts

Flight Distance Length Of Delay Compensation Amount
Up to 1,500km 3 hours or more €250
1,500km – 3,500km 3 hours or more €400
Over 3,500km Between 2 EU Member States & 3 hours or more €400
Over 3,500km 3-4 hours €300
Over 3,500km More than 4 hours €600

Flight Delay

Lounge Pass