Runway Waits Uncommon Despite Media Hype

     Lengthy runway waits might have some customers feeling air sick, but an Associated Press report showed that the chances of a lengthy delay are nearly 1 in 1,000.


     Readers of the March 6 AP piece might have been surprised – especially after the media have dwelled on the JetBlue crisis that kept 10 planes on the ground more than five hours during the Valentine’s Day storm.


     USA Today continued to hype the story in its March 6 edition and emphasized that “588 flights sat for more than two hours on taxiways before taking off in January.” The AP took the opposite view of the story and reported the good news. “Your chances of being stuck on a stuffy airliner for hours on a taxiway – like passengers on recent JetBlue flights – are slim, the government reported yesterday.”


     Though the AP article showed that incident was a rarity, USA Today played up the waits and highlighted “calls for federal regulation to prevent recurrences.”


     According to the AP article, the current Passenger Bill of Rights was proposed by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). The bill “would cap how long flights could wait before returning to the gate.” While both articles mentioned the proposed legislation, only the AP mentioned that the increased regulation has been pushed by Hill Democrats.


     Both stories also interviewed Air Transport Association spokesman David Castelveter, but the two news outlets painted starkly different pictures. USA Today’s Marilyn Adams quoted him saying “The number of flights is increasing along with the number of lengthy delays.” In that story, Castelveter went on to complain about the air traffic control system.


     But in the AP story, Castelveter was cited giving a much more positive quote: “As horrific a situation as that must be for travelers, it is still an extremely low number.”