The headline on an Associated Press article earlier this week peaked my curiosity.
I quickly peeked down the list of airlines and their on-time ratings. Nestled in at No. 5 was US Airways. I snorted until I saw the company’s percentage for on-time departures stood at a mere 78.3 percent.
Earlier in the week — Sunday to be exact — I had been among those who experienced a major delay. It was my first flight on US Airways and until I arrived in Charlotte, N.C. on my way back to the airport in Chattanooga, Tenn. everything had gone well.
My flight from Chattanooga to Charlotte on Friday was on time. The same can be said of the flight from Charlotte to Hartford, Conn. and back again on Sunday. But, the flight from Charlotte to Chattanooga was delayed. Lo and behold, it wasn’t because of the weather.
I spent almost eight hours in the terminal at Charlotte. As you can imagine, I was just a bit frustrated by the time we boarded for the last leg of my quick trip. It didn’t help matters any when I thought of the hour and 20 minute driving staring me in the face once we landed at Lovell Field in Chattanooga.
It wouldn’t have been so bad had US. Airways told the truth. Their first message said the flight, scheduled to takeoff at 4:09 p.m. EST, was delayed until 5 p.m. due to maintenance issues. The next message and announcement said the flight was canceled due to scheduled maintenance. I never got a straight answer as to the real reason.
Sure, I don’t want to get on a plane that has issues. But, I also find it highly improbable that there would be scheduled maintenance on a plane that was fully booked.
I scrambled to get on one of the three remaining Sunday flights to Chattanooga. Thanks to a wonderful lady — I wish I had gotten her name — I got on the last flight of the day that was scheduled to leave at 10:25 p.m. The doors were closed to the plane at 10:44 p.m. and it was a few minutes past 11 p.m. by the time we took off.
A few passengers who had seats on the afternoon flight were able to get on the early evening ones but others had to wait to catch a Monday flight. Both early flights were fully booked so those individuals were looking at being in Charlotte at least until midday Monday. What’s worse is many were on standby still sitting at the airport when we boarded the late flight and had to find accommodations for the night.
Overall, the AP report said that just 68.9 percent of domestic flights arrived within 14 minutes of schedule in December compared to 78.3 percent for all of 2013. So I guess US. Airways record isn’t too bad especially considering the bottom tier of 16 airlines listed fell below 64 percent.
By the time I pulled into the driveway at the house it was approaching 12:30 a.m. Monday just mere hours before my clock was set to go off signaling the start of another work week. I’m glad there weren’t any Tennessee or Alabama State Troopers out and about as I made the 77-mile drive from parking lot to garage.