It's been a busy day at work, and at the end of four flights I thought two things. One, four flights in a day can be a bit tiring. Second, we were delayed on all departures, and none of them were mine (or El Capitanos) fault. This led me to thinking more about the nature of delays.
Now delays are just as frustrating for crew as they are for passengers. To us they mean being late and having to worker harder to try and make up time. Often it is a cascading event, and frankly I just want a peaceful day when I go to work.
Delays can occur for numerous reasons, and often occur spontaneously when you least expect them. They can be roughly classified into four groups; passengers, technical, weather and air traffic control.
Passengers, a necessary continual problem causing entity. How hard is it to be in the departure lounge at boarding time. Missing passengers can usual be found in the frequent flyer lounge or wandering the shops, occasionally in the wrong terminal. Seriously, airports are not that confusing. What is worse is checking in your bag then deciding its all too hard, best leave the airport and go sight seeing. The other common passenger delay is the "I left my phone, laptop, brain at security, shop, car" delay. Passengers are the number one cause of delay, and there is a simple solution...shock collars. Fit all passengers with a shock collar that will induce a mild tingle if the passenger is not at the gate twenty minutes prior to departure. This shock gets stronger the closer we get to departure. Some would say this is cruel, but frankly so is letting your fellow passenger stew in their own sweat on the aircraft.
Technical delays. Anything that can go wrong will. Walking onto the flight deck to find it full of engineers scratching their heads is never a confidence boost. It's a fact of life things break. Fixing things takes time, but of we tell you the engineers say it will be five minutes you can bet it will be twenty. Other technical delays are late cleaners, caterers, fuelers, the list goes on and often there is no reason. Once you accept everybody else is lazy or incompetent, your hair will grow back and you can be at peace with the world.
Weather is always a concern. Rain, storms and fog slow everything down. You can't fight mother nature but she is easy to blame.
Finally ATC. If you can't find anybody else to blame, the faceless people in air traffic control are the perfect victims. Often it is their fault. Why use two runways when you can make everybody hold and use one instead. Even on a good day their instructions to slow down, speed up, and turn around in circles are often incomprehensible. At the end of a long day, when you have got the plane back on time you can guarantee they wont let it happen.
So that's all the delays you will see, and certainly never caused by this great people on the flight deck checking their emails or having a coffee.
What delays do you hate?