Friday, August 1, 2014

#791 guessing game

Airline schedules these days are about as reliable as the weather forecast.  They are both an approximation -- a best guess -- rather than something you can count on or make plans around.  

It becomes even more frustrating when both the forecasters and the airlines try to promulgate a false sense of specificity.  "The flight will arrive at 9:18pm" really means that it could arrive anytime after 9pm, including the next day -- or never.  A "30% chance of rain" means that it will rain or it won't.  A recent forecast in the Washington Post had the audacity to say a "28% chance of rain", as if there is any reliability in that.

It used to be that most airline delays were only because of weather.  But now the schedules are so tight that a mechanical issue in one place impacts a host of other flights,  As a result, airline ETAs are wrong about as much as the weather predictions -- in other words: frequently!

The illusion of specificity gives us a false feeling of security.  We ask people to pick us up at the airport because we believe we are going to be there.  We take the flight on the day of the meeting, instead of the day before, because we believe the schedule.

Just as we have become accustomed to making "rain plans" for events that are held outdoors, we would be well served to have alternate arrangements anytime we fly.  If you give flight schedules as much credence as you give the meteorological reports, it will go a long way in aligning your plans with reality.

--- beth triplett

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