Trends in Airline Passenger Trip Delays: Exploring the Design of the Passenger Air Transportation Service

This paper describes an analysis of the year-over-year trends in Passenger Trip Delays. In 2008 there was a 5.1% reduction in the number of passenger trips from 2007, along with a 6% reduction in the number of flights. This yielded a 13.1% reduction in the annual total passenger trip delays over 2007. Despite the improved total delay performance, in 2008, one out of four passengers experienced a trip disruption due to a delayed flight, canceled flight, diverted flight, or denied boarding. Further the trip delay experienced by disrupted passengers remained largely unchanged from 2007. Passengers on delayed flights experienced an average of 58 minutes in trip delay. Passengers rebooked due to canceled flights experienced an average delay of 10.6 hours. The failure to improve the passenger experience, even during a reduction in the operations in 2008 is indicative of an inherent flaw in the design of the passenger transportation service. The underlying design principle is that when flights are delayed or canceled, passengers can be transferred to alternate flights or re-routed. This design approach is satisfactory when flight operations are predictable or when load factors are low and a “reservoir” of seat-capacity exists to handle disruptions. In the twenty-first century, the air transportation system has been optimized to eliminate excess seats, and experiences an on-time flight performance predictability around 70%. The result – systemic passenger trip delays. A discussion of the underlying structural issues and mitigation strategies is provided.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: DVD
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 14p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 89th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers DVD

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01151028
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 10-3337
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Jan 25 2010 11:40AM