Everyone has been delayed in an airport—rushing to make a holiday dinner, a business meeting or just a connecting flight, there are few worse feelings than staring at the airport marquee to see that your flight has been delayed. Even worse is being stuck on the plane itself while it sits on the tarmac for hours at a time. While it’s easy to quantify the elevated blood pressure and extreme frustration that a flight delay can cause it’s harder to estimate the economic damage of these delays, and the results are surprising. The total annual coast of flight delays to the U.S. economy is $32.9 billion according to a FAA-commissioned report released yesterday; airline passengers alone lost $16.7 billion. It’s easy to blame the airlines for these delays but there’s a lot of it to go around, especially at the nation’s antiquated air travel infrastructure, from overcrowded airports and runways to badly outdated air traffic control technology. Next time your delayed in the airport, the pain in the behind your feeling might have more to do with your wallet than your emotions.
David Castelveter, vice president of the Air Transport Association
Randy Hall, vice president of research & a professor in the Epstein Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering at USC