Thursday, March 20, 2014

How An Airline Saves Money on a Short Flight

I know airlines are focusing on the bottom line
these days, but really?

We're flying from Denver to Salt Lake City:
a distance of 372 air miles or 598 air kilometers
with a flight time of 1 hour and 1 minute.

             From SLC, we're headed to Honolulu,
             and we are excited!

We board and wait for the plane to push back from the gate.
I'm entertaining myself by shooting the action out the window.

          Do you see what is happening?
          The snow begins to fall.  

If you've flown out of Denver International Airport,
or other snowy airports,  you know 
that snow and ice on the wings 
means a delay to de-ice the plane.

Whenever I fly, I'm trying to imagine 
how air flows around the wings 
and lifts the plane into the sky.
And I pray it keeps lifting!

When snow, ice, and frost build up on the wings
and other critical control surfaces of a plane,
they can disrupt smooth air flow.

Rough and uneven surfaces 
can degrade the ability of the wings to lift
and increase drag on the aircraft.
This can result in a CRASH!

Other catastrophic events can occur:
Ice can fall off the plane and get sucked into the engines,
or frozen contaminants can jam the moving parts of the plane. 
Source:  Wikipedia

De-ice the plane please!
We queue up to de-ice.

De-icing accomplished,
we start taxiing for the runway.
And taxiing.
And taxiing.
I look up, and we're back at the gate.

"Sorry folks," says the pilot.
"DIA shut down the second runway.
We waited in line so long to take off,
that we don't have enough fuel to make it to Salt Lake City.
So, for safety's sake, I've made the decision
to come back to the gate and refuel."

We refuel.

"Sorry Folks," says the pilot.
"It took so long to refuel,
that we need to de-ice again."

"If you've missed your connecting flight 
out of Salt Lake City, 
and you wish to rebook from DIA,
you can deplane now, 
and a gate assistant will help you.
But you have to leave now, 
and your bags will stay on this flight."

Terry and I look at each other.
No way we're deplaning!

We de-ice again.

Lift off for SLC!
We have a sinking feeling.
Our flight out of SLC for Honolulu
is Delta's last one from SLC to Hawaii for the day.

We land in SLC.

All the moveable parts
work as they should.

But no way in H E Double L
we're going to make our connection!

The flight attendant asks everyone
whose final destination is SLC 
to remain seated, 
along with those 
who have already 
missed their connections.

Terry and I look at each other.
We have a quickly closing slim, slim chance.
We run!

We run like bats out of H E Double L
from the middle of Concourse B 
to the middle of Concourse C.
This happens to us a lot 
flying in and out of the SLC airport.

No passengers are at the gate
when I run up,
huffing and puffing,
out of breath from the long sprint.
Terry is patiently waiting,
a relaxed gazelle.

We're the last to board.
First class passengers are already 
sipping their complimentary drinks.
I can't remember the last time 
we flew on a plane with first class.

We head back to steerage
and settle in for the long haul to Hawaii.
I'm happy,
but I'll be a whole lot happier
if my checked bag makes it too.

So I'm trying to figure out how flight economics work.
You scrimp on the fuel 
so you have just enough loaded for a short flight.
With a little room for error.
On a morning with snow in the forecast.
At one of the busiest airports in the USA.
And you run out of enough fuel for the flight.

Which costs more,
adding some extra fuel to begin with, 
or all that repeat taxiing,
a second de-icing,
and rebooking disgruntled passengers
who've missed their connections? 
Just wondering.

All is forgiven, Delta.
We and my checked bag made it.
"Safety is our priority," said the captain.
That works for me!

Diamond Head, Honolulu

The weather on Waikiki
is perfect.
Not a snowflake in sight.

A little angst just makes that first drink
at the Royal Hawaiian's Mai Tai Bar taste even better!



  1. Aloha! Lovely photos. That is a lot to go through, isn't it? I haven't flown for more than 35 years, and the only flight I ever took in my life was from Montreal to New Brunswick....and then back, and this was only 45 minutes. Times have changed. I have read about some fatalities and some were due to cost cutting and not checking the planes properly. It's pretty scary. Hawaii would be my dream. Enjoy!

    1. Thanks, Linda! We are enjoying ourselves very much! Tomorrow morning I am getting up early to go paddle boarding on Waikiki. I've been working on my balance and strength since last summer! I'm pretty excited. I've done a lot of flying in my life, including bush planes in northern Ontario. I love to fly! I'm glad that the pilot insisted on getting more fuel. We got an email apology from Delta today for the inconvenience! That's a first! I hope all is well with you!

    2. Yes, it is indeed, thank you! I am looking forward to hearing all about your adventures and seeing some photos as well! (if you care to share) here.

  2. Geez jealous at my sea, as you go where it is warm. Friggin snow and ice storm delays everything, but yeah worth the delay so passengers don't become flambe or road kill lol

    1. Hey, Pat!
      Don't want to make you jealous where you're at!
      I definitely didn't want to be flambé!
      Not Wednesday or any day!
      Take care!

  3. Wow, you made it, what a nightmare journey. Enjoy your holidays x x x

    1. Thanks, Joy! It was more that worth the hassle! Have a good one!

  4. well at least you know they'll never have to de-ice the plane in Hawaii

    1. You're right about that, Adam! Hope all is well with you and Daisy!

  5. I am GREEN with envy, Louise! Hahahaha...But very happy for you. Have a wonderful time. And send some sun and warmth if you can. Okay?

    1. Thanks, Martha! I'm sending warmth and sunshine as hard as I can! I hope it works! Stay toasty!

  6. I
    going back to Hawaii is on my bucket list.the best time of my adolescence life.

    1. Hi Jackiesue! Oh to have been here as an adolescent! Although, I'm certainly having a blast! Take care!

  7. Belas fotografias de lindo lugar....

  8. I'm sure the journey was well worth the destination. We hope to go at Christmas time. I'm looking forward to your photos.

    1. Hi Jill! I do hope you get to go at Christmas. I'm working on a Hawaiian scavenger hunt!


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