Flights Are Slower Today Because Airliners Are Cheap(er)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just like your male pattern baldness and the distance you’re feeling with your significant other, that nagging feeling you have that airliners are slower today than they used to be is actually true and not just in your head.

Slate’s Explainer recently took a look at the issue and found that planes are in fact taking longer to get you to where you want to go. For example, “flights from New York to Denver takes 19 more minutes than in 1983, and a flight from Washington, D.C., to Miami takes 45 more minutes than in 1973,” despite the advancement in aviation technology.

The reason is exactly why you would think: cold, hard cash money. Faster flying means burning more fuel (small increases in speed equal large increases in fuel consumption), so airliners, in an effort to save money due to rising fuel costs, have slowed down their fleets (and have increased the times they say the flight takes so as to appear to me more on time than they really are). Add in an increase in private jets clogging runways, the decrease in use of supersonic planes, and co-pilots’ insistence on catching up with the latest romantic comedies, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for slower flights for the foreseeable future.

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