ElI5: Flight delays

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Currently delayed at LGA, going on 7 hours. Why, when flights are all going to the same city (where weather has previously delayed everyone), do they not catch up and leave in the order of their original departure times? I know flights are coming in from different cities, but literally every other flight going to my city (DFW) has now left except us. In a route with many flights per day, seems like this could be more balanced?

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3 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

There could be a whole laundry list of possible reasons why. If all the other DFW flights have gone and you’re still waiting, I’d bet that it’s probably a crew issue. Crews can only work so many hours by regulations, so it’s likely one of them would not legally be able to fly the flight anymore due to the original delays. If the airline doesn’t have any reserve crews available, then they have to fly someone in on another flight. They could also call fatigue, basically saying “I’m too tired to safely work this flight” and cause the same issue.

Could be something broken on the plane that needs to be fixed, or might cause it not to be able to legally fly the route if there is a chance of hitting weather en route.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s a combination of factors, really. Weather, air traffic control, crew availability, and the specific airline’s scheduling all play a part. Some flights might get priority because they connect to international flights or have more passengers with tight connections. Plus, once a delay snowball starts, it’s tough to stop. Hopefully, you get out of there soon!

Anonymous 0 Comments

There’s more than just the plane to consider.

The pilots are only allowed to operate for so many hours before they have to have a rest period. If a cancelled flight was going to be the last one of a pilots day, that pilot is probably just otherwise done. If it would be the first, that pilot is waiting around to work.

There’s similar logistics with cabin crew, who will be ending their day based on whatever arbitrary time they started working. 

There’s also the gates and runway slots at the destination airport. If there’s not going to be a place to park and deplane, no rush in leaving earlier. Large airports also have specific runway slots for takeoffs and landings. If you aren’t going to have a slot to land for an hour, no point in circling the airport waiting.