Fly on time, every time: How you can help your flight to stay on schedule
Air travel is like a chain, where each operation has a specific time window. The delay of one flight can affect many other flights and their customers.
Aviation is a minute-to-minute game, where each flight has a limited time frame in which it can operate in the airspace or destination airport. There are specific time slots when the plane is refuelled, cleaned, and loaded, or when it disconnects from the passenger bridge and takes off from the runway.
If any part of this chain falters or is delayed, it will affect many other links in the chain. Passengers won’t make it to their connecting flights, or connecting flights may have to wait for passengers. The aircraft can’t depart on time for its next destination, and the crew has to finish their shift. At the destination airport, the staff may be occupied elsewhere when the flight arrives late, and the aircraft must wait for the passenger bridge. In the worst-case scenario, the delay of one flight can have a negative impact on a large number of other flights, possibly for days.
Catching up on delays causes emissions and additional costs
If the flight doesn’t depart on time, the pilots may try to catch up by flying faster. But catching up on lost minutes in the air is not easy. Flying faster consumes more fuel, increasing both costs and emissions. Fuel-efficiency is the single most important way for an airline to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions, so flying faster is not desirable in terms of emissions.
For example, catching up on a 10-minute delay on a flight from Helsinki to London increases fuel consumption by about 400 kg. Flying faster on the Helsinki-Bangkok route consumes about 2,500 kg more fuel, and the achieved time benefit is about 15 minutes.
What can you do as a passenger
Air travel is a team effort, and customers play a key role in ensuring that flights leave on time. Here are four easy ways in which you can help to ensure that your flight stays on schedule.
Pack the right size carry-on baggage
Make sure to check what kind of baggage is included in your ticket. An excessive amount of carry-on baggage slows down boarding and is a typical reason for delays. Fitting oversized carry-on baggage takes a significant amount of time, as loose baggage is not allowed in the cabin for safety reasons. All baggage must be stored under the seats or in the overhead compartments. Oversized or excessive baggage must be transferred to the cargo hold, which slows down the departure of the flight. By following baggage regulations, you can help to ensure safe and smooth travel for everyone.
Be on time at the airport
Arrive at the airport at least two hours before your short haul flight departs, and three hours before your long-haul flight. Boarding takes place strictly according to schedule, and if you arrive late, you may not have enough time to go through security checks or find the correct gate. If you arrive too late, the airline is not responsible for arranging another flight.
Follow the announcements and monitors and go to your gate on time
You should go to the gate no later than the boarding time specified on your ticket. Follow the announcements and monitors at the airport to stay up to date on when you should be at the departure gate. It is good to arrive on time before boarding begins. Check the boarding group in your boarding pass. If you delay arriving at the gate, you might in the worst-case scenario miss your flight. The flight can’t wait for individual passengers for too long because delays can cause a chain reaction and easily impact thousands of other customers.
Follow the instructions of the staff at the airport and on the plane
Airport staff and cabin crew know what effects on-time operation. Follow their instructions to stay on schedule. If you are unsure about anything, feel free to ask the staff for advice. They will be very happy to help you.