Entries in Flight Delays (6)


LaHood Warns Budget Cuts Would Be ‘Very Painful for the Flying Public’

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned Friday that looming across-the-board spending cuts would cause flight delays at major airports, force the Federal Aviation Administration to furlough workers and have a “very serious impact” on the nation’s transportation services.

Painting a bleak picture, LaHood told reporters “it’s going to be very painful for the flying public” if the cuts kick in at the end of the month.

Overall, the Department of Transportation would need to cut roughly $1 billion from its $74.2 billion budget, less than two percent. More than $600 million of the cuts would come from the FAA, which would be forced to furlough the majority of its nearly 47,000 employees.

As a result, travelers could expect delays of up to 90 minutes at major airports like New York, Chicago and San Francisco because there would be fewer controllers on staff and some flight towers at smaller airports could close temporarily.

“You’ve got a big budget. Can’t you find some other way to cut that without telling air traffic controllers to stay home?” ABC News’ Jonathan Karl asked.

“That’s a lot of money, Jonathan,” the secretary, a Republican, replied.

LaHood’s surprise appearance at the daily briefing comes as the White House is trying to ramp up pressure on Republicans to reach a deal to avoid so-called sequestration.

“I would describe my presence here with one word: Republican. They’re hoping that maybe I can influence some of the people in my own party,” the former Illinois congressman admitted.

LaHood urged his former Republican Party colleagues to “step up” and compromise and recommended they see the movie Lincoln for inspiration. “What Lincoln did is he gathered people around him the way that I believe president Obama is doing, by calling Republicans, talking to them, trying to work with them. And when that happens, big things get solved,” he said.

LaHood, 67, cautioned lawmakers to expect a flood of calls from their constituents if air-traffic delays occur. “Why does this have to happen?” he asked. “Nobody likes a delay. Nobody likes waiting in line. None of us do."

“If we can’t get our hamburger within five minutes, if we can’t get on the plane within 30, 40, 50 minutes after going through, you know what happens. They start calling their member of Congress.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Holiday Travel Woes: Severe Weather Will Cause Delays

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the Gulf Coast struggles to recover from an outbreak of tornadoes, millions across the nation are waking up Wednesday morning on the busiest travel day of the Christmas season to cope with more severe weather that promises to upset the travel plans of millions.

"Traveling will definitely be affected as people go home for the holidays," Bob Oravec, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service, told ABC News.  "Anywhere from the Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley and the Northeast, there's definitely going to be travel issues as we have heavy snow and some very high winds."

That large storm has been pounding not just the Gulf Coast but most of the South from Oklahoma to Arkansas, and Texas, where Dallas had a rare white Christmas.

In Lubbock, Texas, more than an inch of snow fell, making it difficult for some drivers to stay on the road.  At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, flights have been delayed as crews worked to de-ice planes.

Oklahoma got about seven inches of snow across the state, making for treacherous road conditions.  A 21-car pile-up in Oklahoma City temporarily shut down a major roadway through the state.  No one was seriously injured.

Arkansas also got a rare Christmas Day snow storm, with an estimated 10 inches falling in Fayetteville, limiting roadway visibility.

All of that snowy weather in the South left a white trail everywhere it went, and on Wednesday, it's expected to bring at least six to eight inches to the lower Midwest.  Wednesday's severe weather could cause potential delays at airports in St. Louis, Louisville, Ky., Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

In Northern California, residents were socked with the third storm in three days.  Wet weather spread from the Bay area through the Sierras, delaying inbound flights at San Francisco International Airport and causing a landslide in Oakland that almost crushed one driver to death.

The severe weather system in the South has been moving overnight, and a front with heavy rain and wind is forecast for the Northeastern corridor late Wednesday night and into Thursday morning.

"The [weather in] big cities from Washington up to Philadelphia and New York City will mostly be in the form of rain," Oravec said.  "There may be a brief period of snow from the nation's capitol this morning up into Philadelphia and then to New York City.  But the track of the storm currently suggests that the precipitation will definitely change over to rain."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dept. of Transportation Issues First Ever Fine for Tarmac Delay

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced that American Eagle Airlines became the first airline to be slapped with fines for violating the department’s three-hour limit for tarmac delays.

On May 29, 2011, 15 different American Eagle Airlines flights left 608 passengers sitting on the Chicago O’Hare International Airport tarmac for a total of 225 minutes -- 45 minutes beyond the limit.

For the violation, American Eagle Airlines has received a fine of $900,000 -- the largest fine to date in a consumer case not involving civil rights violation.

"A total of $650,000 must be paid within 30 days, and up to $250,000 can be credited for refunds, vouchers, and frequent flyer mile awards provided to the passengers on the 15 flights on May 29, as well as to passengers on future flights that experience lengthy tarmac delays of less than three hours," the DOT said in a statement Monday.

The rule, which was put in place in April 2010, states that any U.S. airlines operating with 30 or more passenger seats are prohibited from allowing their flights to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without giving passengers an opportunity to deplane.

“We put the tarmac rule in place to protect passengers, and we take any violation very seriously,” explained U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  “We will work to ensure that airlines and airports coordinate their resources and plans to avoid keeping passengers delayed on the tarmac.”

And it seems to be working.  In Monday’s press release, the DOT notes that between May 2010 and April 2011, the larger U.S. airlines required to file tarmac delays reported 20 tarmac delays of more than three hours but less than four hours.  By comparison, during the 12 months before the rule took effect, these carriers had 693 tarmac delays of more than three hours, and 105 delays longer than four hours.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Stranded on New Year's Eve? You're Not Alone  

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Thousands of stranded travelers are going to have an unusual New Year's Eve thanks to winter storms in the Rockies, the Midwest and the fallout from last weekend's Northeast blizzard.

Blizzard warnings were in effect Friday for portions of Wyoming, Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas, according to the National Weather Service. Parts of the Rockies and the Midwest were under some sort of winter storm watches and warnings Friday morning.

It's a similar story across the country as airlines rebooked stranded passengers on flights after the New Year. But those flying on New Year's Eve night shouldn't expect anything special. While Southwest encourages its flight attendants to have fun on New Year's Eve and wear hats and have noise makers, other airlines told ABC News they were simply focusing on getting everybody home. At least those on Virgin America's red eye and evening flights will get free drinks, according to spokeswoman Abby Lunardini.

Airports aren't doing much for travelers either. In fact, most will have limited retail options.

For instance, the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport will only have a McDonald's and Subway open when the clock strikes midnight. It will be a similar story in Denver where most of the airports concourses will be closed.

At least one hotel is throwing in something special for stranded travelers. New York's Buckingham Hotel is offereing people with flight delays of four hours or more the cost of their airport taxi ride (up to $50) taken off the current available room rate.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Stranded: Official Response to Snowstorm Angers Commuters

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Many commuters seethed with anger and frustration Monday as they endured the aftereffects of a massive snowstorm that battered the Northeast Sunday, including a New York City subway rider who was stranded on a frigid above-ground train for nine hours.

"No heat, no nothing," he told ABC affiliate WABC from a partially opened subway car door.

With 20 inches of snow, it was the fifth-largest storm in New York City history.

Some New Jersey motorists were stranded overnight, starting at about 7:30 p.m. About 60 people were reportedly stranded in their cars on I-280 in West Orange.

They have since been rescued, according to state police. They were among the victims of a post-holiday travel nightmare as airlines canceled more than 1,500 flights and others were stranded in cars and on public transportation.

The winter blizzard dumped more than a foot of snow in New York City and New England. Nearly two dozen states east of the Mississippi are under severe weather warnings.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


America's Most-Delayed Airports

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  Although flight delays so far this year are at their lowest point since 2003, some airports continue to be plagued by late flights.

According to the Department of Transportation, San Francisco International Airport, where only 71.5 percent of flights arrived at the gate on time, tops the list with the most delays so far this year.

Taking the next three spots are the major airports in New York.  Newark Liberty International Airport came in a close second with only 71.9 of flights arriving on time, followed by LaGuardia Airport with 73.7 percent and John F. Kennedy International Airport with 74.4 percent.  Miami International Airport rounds up the top five with 75.4 percent.

"There's no surprise," said Ray Neidl, an airline analyst with the Maxim Group.  "You're talking about the biggest cities, the most-congested airspace."

Airports with the fewest delays during the first eight months of the year were Seattle, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Portland, Oregon and Las Vegas.  Each of those cities have relatively good weather, plenty of open airspace for flights to maneuver, and large modern runways.

"A lot of it is airspace," Neidl notes.

Overall, the DOT says 18.7 percent of flights arrived at the gate 15 minutes or later during the first eight months of this year, compared to 19.5 percent last year and 23.3 percent the year before.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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