Is Air Travel Taking Longer Than Before?

As we get older, it’s common to feel like the passage of time is speeding up. Events that used to take much longer now seem to fly past.

When it comes to air travel though, the opposite is actually happening. Flight times are getting slower, it’s a fact.

Shorter flights take longer than they used to as well. For instance ,In 1995, London to Edinburgh took 1 hour 15 minutes instead of the 1 hour 25 it takes now.

With the technological advancements of the last few decades, it seems bizarre that flight duration should slow and not speed up.

So why is this happening? Well, we’ve got some answers. We’ve compiled a list of reasons why air travel might be taking longer than it did in previous years.

Airlines Have A Huge Part To Play In This

So we can all agree that flight times are increasing. But are planes spending more time in the air, or are they adding extra time at the start and end of each journey?

In reality, it’s both. There’s a technical word for this in the aviation industry, ”Schedule Padding”.

Airlines often alter their flight schedule to give each flight a bit more margin for error regarding flight delays.

This extra time might explain why pilots often proudly announce ‘making up time in the air’ — even after lengthy delays have occurred before take-off.

By giving themselves a bit more time in the schedule, airlines can report better on-time performances.

Money Saving Tactics

Another reason why passengers experience longer flight times is that of fuel efficiency and money saving on the part of airlines.

A plane traveling at a slower speed will consume less fuel, so airlines are able to save millions each year by extending flight times.

The price of fuel rose dramatically between 2002 and 2012 from $0.70 per gallon to $3 globally, so you can see why airlines might want to cut back.

Bigger Airports, More Airplanes In The Sky

It’s no surprise that busier air traffic can have a significant effect on the punctuality of flights.

Flight routes are getting much busier, and new runways and terminals (such as the gigantic Mumbai Airport Terminal 2) are all factors airlines consider when publishing their schedules.

Air traffic control congestion also plays a large role. With skies now much busier than 10 years ago, sticking to previous flight times might be too optimistic.

All that said, it’s the job of airlines to offer paying passengers the most convenient and quick way to reach their destination. So blaming busier schedules for poor service isn’t going to fool anyone.

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