Why flights take longer than they used to

Here is a pretty shocking fact. Back in the 1960s a flight from New York to Los Angeles was scheduled to take almost 45 minutes less than it does today.

Yes, over 50 years we have actually got worse at flying people to their destinations in a timely fashion. About 15% worse. But how can this be.

Well, although the time spent in the air had improved a little, with faster jets, the time spent getting passengers into the air and then out of the airport has got significantly worse. As a passenger, this should anger you.

Huge airports like JFK, Frankfurt, Heathrow and so on now require aircraft to taxi up to a mile or more to reach a gate. The gates themselves can be 20 minutes walk from the terminal. It all adds up.

Heathrows plans to add another runway will only make things worse for air travelers in and out of London.

This is why smaller airlines using smaller airports can often provide not only a more relaxed service, but a faster one too.

LHR Airports are not an airline and so have no vested interest in moving aircraft quickly. In fact, their best interests may be served by making the experience uncomfortable. As journalist Philip Stephens wrote in the FT 2014, ” a half-decent level of passenger service would be counter-productive because it would undercut the case for that third runway”.

As a passenger, this should anger you. With flight delays being nowadays the norm you get to spend more of your time hanging around in departures; doing what exactly? Oh, yes shopping. Cappuccinos, novels and wet wipes sell in incredible volumes and the sales data gives the airport owners the data that allows them to invite retailers to pay top dollar, pound euro or yen for the privilege of selling to you, just to alleviate your discomfort and boredom of being stuck in terminal two for another three hours.

And we wonder why LHR spend so many millions convincing the government that their outdated hub model in the only option for international flights when the airlines and plane manufacturers disagree. As a passenger, this should anger you.