- Flights around the world are taking longer.
- According to a study from the Singapore Management University, the average time of flights has increased by as much as 9.8 minutes between 1986 and 2016.
- This is caused by airlines padding their flight schedules with extra time so few flights arrive late. It’s a practice called schedule creep, the BBC wrote.
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If you’re feeling like flights are becoming longer these days, you’re not crazy. They are indeed taking longer. While delays and runway congestion have certainly not helped the situation, even on-time flights are taking longer.
And it’s by design.
The longer flight times can be attributed to something called “schedule creep.” Simply put, it’s where airlines pad their flight times to reduce the number of late flights.
“Padding is the extra time airlines allow themselves to fly from A to B. Because these flights were consistently late, airlines have now baked delays experienced for decades into their schedules instead of improving operations,” Kathryn Creedy wrote on the BBC.
For airlines being late usually means a flight has an arrived at the gate 15 minutes or more after the scheduled time of arrival. However, even that buffer isn’t enough many times.
According to a study published in March by Singapore Management University, the average length of a flight even after filtering out the effects of airport congestion, flight delays, and increased crude oil prices has increased by 6.2 to 9.8 minutes between 1986 and 2016.
The padding of flight schedules might make the airline performance look better on paper, but it’s doesn’t solve any of the problems that plague the industry.
“This global trend poses multiple problems: not only does your journey take longer but creating the illusion of punctuality means there’s no pressure on airlines to become more efficient, meaning congestion and carbon emissions will keep rising,” Creedy wrote.
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