Tarmac delay hall of shame: US Airways loses in latest month

airwaysUnlike some of my esteemed travel writing colleagues, I won’t make the mistake of confusing a few tarmac delay activists with the entire passenger rights movement. Still, the August airline performance numbers, which have just been released by our friends at the Department of Transportation, merit a closer look.

You might think ExpressJet Airlines flight 2816 would be a standout. Not quite correct.

Here’s the full list:

1. ExpressJet Airlines flight 2816 from Houston to Minneapolis/St. Paul, 8/7/09 – delayed on tarmac 337 minutes
2. AirTran Airways flight 782 from Atlanta to St. Louis, 8/12/09 – delayed on tarmac 253 minutes
3. US Airways flight 2135 from Boston to New York LaGuardia, 8/21/09 – delayed on tarmac 252 minutes
4. US Airways flight 2131 from Boston to New York LaGuardia, 8/21/09 – delayed on tarmac 244 minutes
5. JetBlue Airways flight 1258 from Washington Dulles to Boston, 8/21/09 – delayed on tarmac 241 minutes

That’s two US Airways flights from Boston to LaGuardia on the same day, held on the tarmac more than four hours in an air traffic control delay. Sure, the ExpressJet incident looks bad, but US Airways is better represented for the month.

And let’s not forget JetBlue flight 1258, which was delayed only a few minutes less than the US Airways flights.

That’s something of a surprise, considering JetBlue’s reluctance to keep anyone waiting.

I’m reasonably certain that there will be no meaningful time-limit rule on tarmac delays in the upcoming FAA Reauthorization Bill, so this horse race is bound to continue for the foreseeable future.

Does anyone care to predict the winner — uh, make that loser — for 2009?

(Photo: Brian Indrelunas/Flickr Creative Commons)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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