Flying Problems – The Knock-on “Delay”

Regular readers of this Blog will know that my airline of choice is EasyJet. Maybe that should be my default airline. There is sometimes a choice but by the time you factor in my regular membership it is really not worth considering the other options. In any case when I book in advance EasyJet are usually as cheap or cheaper as their opposition. Recently however the EasyJet operation has become very poor. I have noticed the quality service decline rapidly over the past year and this fall shows no sign of slowing.

Before I explain in detail some of their issues I must point out that, in general, the in-flight crew are never a problem. I believe the real problem lies with the management and size of operation. To put it in simple terms; EasyJet is now too big and the operation has become something they always tried to compete with (and indeed criticise) when they started up. The management clearly struggle to cope fit the business model into the now huge size of their operation.

The “Delay” Trick

When EasyJet have several flights to and from the same destination this is what they do to handle a delay.
Once one flight is “delayed” they start to increase the new “estimated” departure time. This increases slowly until the departure time of the flight is almost the same as the scheduled time of the next flight to that same destination.

Then a delay appears to the following flight time. This second (knock-on) delay begins to increase until it is clear that the flight you were initially going to board is actually the next scheduled flight.

Meanwhile the time for the (official) next scheduled flight can be seen disappearing into the distance. That one too will become the next flight in the scheduled list.

When you finally board your flight (i.e. the next scheduled flight) they give you some cock and bull story about your flight (by which they actually mean their next scheduled flight) having been delayed some other place for whatever reason…

The reason? Well it is simple. If your flight really was delayed by more than three hours then they would have to pay every passenger at least €400. This has been EU law for quite some time now.

Much better that they put you all on their next scheduled flight – which will generally be within that critical three-hour period. They then need to kick that flight down the road so every flight gets impacted. Unless of course they can recover a plane or until any genuinely delayed flight finally arrives then they can slot it into that list of scheduled flights. Probably the last flight of the day to your destination.

This is how it works…

To better illustrate this see the list below. Times are just examples
(Example) Flights from Gatwick to Madrid.
Flight 1: Scheduled departure 1300
Flight 2: Scheduled departure 1530
Flight 3: Scheduled departure 1740
Flight 4: (Last flight of the day). Scheduled departure 1930
Flight 1 is delayed (possibly genuinely) and it looks like it may be delayed till after 1600 hours. EasyJet start increasing the delay times on the departure information screens at the airport until the (new) departure time is more or less the same time as (scheduled) Flight 2 – say 1520. When you finally board and take off however it is clear that you are leaving on Flight 2. Not Flight 1!

But your overall delay time is only 2 hours 30 minutes (max) therefore within the compensation pay-out timeframe.
Meanwhile – usually an hour or more after you were informed that Flight 1 was going to be delayed – Flight 2 starts to show a delay. This delay time increases rapidly until it basically morphs into Flight 3.

And so on… By the time the final flight of the day is due any genuinely delayed flight may have caught up or been recovered/replaced. At least that is what the airline hopes will happen. That way they will never have to pay out any compensation but will have delayed many passengers by virtue of this knock-on effect.

Should I Start Flying Ryanair?

The way this lot are performing I may well start flying Ryanair. Now there’s a phrase I never thought I would hear myself say, never mind write!

Maybe I need to clarify that statement. A couple of months ago I read a Newsweek article (link here) which listed the ‘15 worst airlines in the world’ as voted for by passengers. The list was the result of a survey by a group called Air-Help.
Ryanair faired slightly better than EasyJet; coming in at 5th worst. EasyJet came in 3rd worst. Although on closer inspection of the data EasyJet actually came out slightly better than Ryanair on both timing and “service”.

Well what do you know? I am about to find out….


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