To see what individual pilots are saying about the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) budget cuts mandated by the sequester and the resulting flight delays, we went to AirlinePilotForum to listen in on pilot chatter, an active online community that reports 150,000 visitors each month.
In a thread titled “How did big F-Day 1 go?,” the site’s users — who identify themselves as pilots — give first hand accounts of the first two days spent working with a short-staffed FAA as a result of 47,000 employees, including air traffic controllers, who now must take one work day off every two weeks.
They debate the root cause of the sequester and how the FAA should handle the cuts, but everyone agrees on one thing: Air travel is about to get a lot worse for everyone involved.
How could air travel get worse with the TSA harassing children and making a Marine remove his prostetic leg? Fliers can likely expect more delays because the reduced number of controllers are spacing flights further apart, to allow them to manage traffic safely.
Delays started piling up at large airports Sunday and Monday, and did not get better on Tuesday.
Here’s what pilots are saying about it:
One of the first responses came on Sunday afternoon from user squall line, who wrote that despite good weather, his flight had to slow to a crawl:
Ord-phl [Chicago O’Hare to Philadelphia International] today. Not a single cloud the whole day and scheduled between us air banks. Vectored all over the place and slowed way down. All others behind us were given holding. Glad we added gas. We would have landed under min if we didn’t.
ol’tiger guy reported what sounds like a joke from an air traffic controller at Memphis International Airport:
Heard “unable [to] direct due to sequestration” from MEM [Memphis] centre today.
By Sunday night, user DelDah Capt noted delays caused by the reduced staffing, and predicted a rough Monday:
I’ve been watching the ATC System command centre website off and on today. Both LGA and JFK went into alternating ground stops and GDPs around 3:30L. The weather was clear and a million. The posted reason for the delays was ‘STAFFING’.
LAX went into Ground Stop around 7:00PM Local and is currently in a GDP with average delays over 3 hours. The reason given is STAFFING.
This is on Sunday, a relatively light traffic day. Monday should be interesting
While most of the users on the forum sympathized with the air traffic controllers, gilz16 put the blame on them and suspected a boycott:
Got zig zag vectors due to “traffic separation” tonight going into LGA (not the normal kind) not a single cloud in the sky and they wouldn’t clear anybody for a visual, ground control seemed to be busy watching a movie or suffering severe retardation, earlier heard people holding up to an hour while the airport was a ghost town.
I think this is all a boycott.
Early Monday morning, buzzpat reported limited arrivals at LAX, with an ominous note:
I hope it’s an aberration but so far, it looks like this could get ugly.
But the scariest view of an FAA operating at 90% came from fatmike69:
LAX took a BIG hit last night. SkyWest basically cancelled their entire LAX operations from about 7:00pm on. 90% of the flights after this time were simply outstation repositions for the morning.
Other flights still running were delayed 3-4 hours. SWA cancelled at least 4 flights from the bay area to LAX in the evening. If this is gonna be the new norm for a while, watch out in LAX.
Before long, the conversation turned away from reporting delays to debating their cause. Some blamed Republicans in Congress, others President Obama.
But nearly all the users on the forum agreed with 680crewchief, who pointed out the pilots, air traffic controllers, and airline customers are the ones losing out:
This sequestration is purely finger-pointing politics and nothing more. Unfortunately we are the ‘little people’ that pay the price.
Have you flown lately and run into delays? Sound off in the comments below.
NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.