In talking about some government nonsense that purports to help airline travelers, Insty opines:

Of course, airlines often seem to fudge the reasons for delays or cancellations.

Being a gentleman, he’s giving them too much credit.  “Always” more than “often”, in other words.

Back when I were a leech consultant, I remember having to catch the last flight out of Nashville to Chicago one night.  There were just four of us passengers in the waiting area:  all wearing suits, all carrying briefcases, and all obviously frequent fliers.

One of the guys said, “Anyone want to give odds on whether this flight’s gong to be canceled for a ‘technical problem’?”  Nobody was interested — we were all gloomily certain of that eventuality.  Then I said, “Why don’t we run a book on how long from now before the flight’s canceled?  Five minutes, ten minutes… what am I offered?  Who’s in, for a dollar?”

Needless to say, that got everyone’s attention, and after each of us had picked a time (we were about 20 minutes from the scheduled takeoff), we waited expectantly.

When the announcement finally came, I bet it was the first time that the gate staff had ever had that announcement greeted with whoops and hollers, and money changing hands.

We were told that they’d made arrangements to put us up at the airport hotel overnight, so all four of us met up in one guy’s room and played poker till we had to catch the dawn flight the following day, emptying all four rooms’ courtesy bars in the process.  Must have cost the airline a fortune.

FYI, it was an American Airlines flight, but it could have been any of them, the lousy bastards.


  1. Last fall, I was at DFW when American had their major malfunction.

    They kept claiming it was weather (“too windy”), when we could look outside and see that the hour-long spate of high winds had come and gone.

    Several thousand flights cancelled, and American couldn’t rebook me for two more days. I ended up having to catch a Southwest flight home – from Love Field. At 6 AM the next morning. After sleeping in the Love Field lobby overnight, because there were zero available hotel rooms, and because Love Field shuts down their security from 10P to 4A.

    The real reason for the American meltdown? Apparently, they don’t have enough pilots, and the ones they do employ decided to “work to task,” and refused to work past their 40 hour mark, for COVID/union reasons.

  2. I love American Airlines and you should too & here’s why: thanks to me slant eyed mum, I use chopsticks as often as I use a knife and fork, and always take a pair with me when I travel. But not on American Airlines! They confiscated my hashi so as to protect the likes of you from the likes of me. Because you know slant eyed Polacks like nothing better than to twirl our mustaches, eagerly looking for any opportunity to skewer unwary travelers with our 箸! So stop your whining about delays and cancellations. You owe American your very lives!

    1. ‘Tis not often I get to read such razor-sharp sarcasm.

      Anyway, I always thought the problem with this country was too many slant-eyed Polacks.

  3. The Airline industry has had dreadful customer service for decades. The mandatory sexual assault by TSA doesn’t make any part of flying any better. I avoid it as much as possible


  4. They absolutely lie about flight cancellation reasons, because if it’s caused by something not under their control (ie weather) they don’t have to pay for hotel rooms and meal vouchers, whereas if it is under their control (lack of crew, airplane, mechanical) they are on the hook.

    They lie about expected delays, with company policy to post publicly HALF the expected delay (move time 30 minutes later when 1 hour delay expected.) That is partially to get passengers in the boarding area so they don’t show up AT departure time, sloshed from their drink stop at an airport bar, still expecting to get on as the agent is closing the boarding door.

    With that being said, what we love as pilots is when we are delayed or cancelled, and some passenger comes up to us and says “but my brother/cousin/friend is at the destination and says the weather is FINE there!” Oh, yea, that’s nice, because a single weather report from someone that doesn’t understand what a Doppler radar is, is telling you it’s fine, you want to risk your life flying into the squall line of thunderstorms about to hit the destination airport? How about you let us do our jobs to get you there safely according to the myriad of rules we are required to follow?

    As crew, we usually see the airline’s failures coming from a mile away. When they outsource everything for cheaper labor, they get an inferior product, but the bean counters at HQ don’t care, or put a value on employee morale, customer loyalty, or operational reliability. We do the best we can, but they have taken away much of the Captain’s authority in many areas, and all we can do is shake our heads in frustration. They refuse to listen to our unions about crew scheduling practices that would actually work and be successful for everyone, because the corporate machine is always correct. We have horrible customer service because there are minimal agents, and they have had decision making taken away from them, and there is no excess capacity (open seats) to reroute passengers when things go wrong. Corporate wants a minimum viable product, and that’s exactly what is occuring.

  5. Four hotel rooms and trashed mini-bars much cheaper than the cost of fuel Nashville->Chicago.

  6. It’s one advantage of flying SWA out of Love Field — they have to pre-position planes at Love for the next day, so the last flight always goes out to KDAL.

  7. oh, not always.
    Sometimes the failure of the airline is such that they can’t deny it, or the problem arises in flight so the passengers notice it.

    Take the one time an aircraft I was on needed to make an emergency landing leading to a 24 hour delay in reaching our destination while they were waiting for a replacement to be flown in.
    Or the time the crew arrived at the gate and to their surprise their was no aircraft or gate crew. The airline had forgotten to schedule the aircraft, we eventually left with about an hour’s delay after a spare was pulled out of the line of aircraft waiting for maintenance and rushed to the gate.

    But yes, they usually blame the weather because then they don’t (at least here) have to pay compensation for the delay.

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