Make us your home page

Slow season promises break to harried fliers

This slow travel season between Labor Day and the start of Thanksgiving is as good as it gets for road warriors. Summer vacation crowds have disappeared. There's scant chance of ending up behind a screaming kid on the plane or the clueless guy with a pocket full of coins at the security checkpoint.

Could this season be even better?

Struggling airlines have slashed their domestic schedules to eliminate money-losing flights and help boost airfares. About 1 out of every 11 flights on the books in the last three months of 2007 won't fly in this year's fourth quarter.

That surely translates into fewer people flying, so airport lines will be shorter and parking spaces easier to find. Less luggage will move between bag rooms and planes (thanks also to new airline fees), improving the odds of your suitcase arriving at the destination along with you.

How about more planes arriving on time? It makes sense that fewer planes clogging up taxiways and airspace would speed up flights for everyone.

On-time performance, defined as a flight arriving within 15 minutes of scheduled time, improved to 77.3 percent in August from 72.1 percent in August 2007, according to the Wall Street Journal. Airline capacity in August was down 8 percent year-to-year, the newspaper reported.

But persistent bad weather — thunderstorms in Florida and blizzards in Chicago — can wreck an airline's reliability numbers. And capacity reductions at airports with the worst records for delays, like New York's John F. Kennedy International and Newark International, are well below the national average.

One last question: Will fewer flights mean less crowded planes? That's something even the airlines don't know yet. The answer lies in how many seats carriers can sell at higher prices they blame on fuel costs. August statistics may hold a clue.

Domestic passenger traffic fell faster than capacity for such big names as American, United and Continental. Southwest saw traffic drop 5 percent even with slightly more seats for sale. Translation: If you can afford the ticket, there should be more room to spread out.

Steve Huettel can be reached at or (813) 226-3384.

Slow season promises break to harried fliers 09/09/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 7:40am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24


    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters


    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights


    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.


    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]