This Is the Real Reason Flight Times Are Longer Than They Used to Be

If you’re the type of person who wants to minimize their flight time as much as possible, we have bad news for you. Flights are taking longer (in some cases, double the time) than they were 40 years ago. Read on to learn a couple reasons why flying just isn’t as fast as it used to be.

1. Flight times are almost double what they used to be

airplane interior

A nonstop flight was much faster several decades ago. | Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

If you’ve been flying for a long time, you might have noticed one huge difference in the flights that take place today, and the flights that took place in the ’70s and prior. “Today, a non-stop flight from New York to Houston, Texas, takes about four hours. In 1973, the same flight would have taken just over two and a half hours. So much for progress,” says Telegraph.

Next: It’s not just American flights. 

2. International flights are also affected

airplane is flying in the red sky

Since the ’90s, flight times have increased. | Den-belitsky/iStock/Getty Images

It’s not just state-side flights that are affected, either, it’s international flights as well. According to Telegraph, a flight from London to Edinburgh takes about 10 minutes longer than it did in the ’90s, and Madrid to Barcelona takes about 20 minutes longer than it used to. That may seem minimal, but as everyone knows who’s spent long days in airports and on planes, every minute counts.

Next: Surprise: It’s about money! 

3. Flying slower saves money

airplane on runway

Jet fuel’s price has increased. | Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Images

One of the reasons flights are taking longer is due to the cost of jet fuel. According to Business Insider, when the price of fuel rose from $0.70 per gallon to over $3, airlines realized they could save a great deal of money simply by flying their planes slower, thereby using less fuel.

Next: Why the airlines keep doing it

4. Unfortunately, it’s really effective

airplane flies over a sea

The savings add up. | Mike_Kiev/iStock/Getty Images

Unfortunately for passengers who want to make it to their destinations in a timely matter, flying slower has been saving airlines millions of dollars. In 2008, Associate Press reported that American airline JetBlue saved $13.6million a year by adding two minutes onto the length of each flight.

Next: It’s not all beneficial, though … 

5. The downsides

Airhostesses and a pilot of German airline Lufthansa

A longer flight means added crew costs. | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Though airlines are saving a ton of money on fuel costs, there is a bit of a trade off. “Traditionally, the typical flying speed (546-575mph) is a trade-off between commercial pressures and fuel consumption – reaching a destination quicker is not only more appealing to customers but also minimises crew costs and ensures a new load of passengers quicker,” says Telegraph.

Next: Another reason flights are taking longer

6. ‘Schedule padding’

Tampa, Florida, skyline with warm sunset light with a commercial passenger jet airline

Schedule padding is when airlines overestimate how long trips will take. | mokee81/iStock/Getty Images

Another reason flights are thought to be taking longer today is due to a practice called “schedule padding.” Schedule padding is basically overestimating the time it’ll take for passengers to reach their destinations so that travelers think they’ll still be “on time” despite the many delays that naturally occur with the flying process. “The accusation is that airlines are coming under increasing pressure to have as high an on-time performance score (OTP) as possible, and are consequently allowing themselves plenty of wiggle room when allotting flight times,” reads another Telegraph article on the issue.

Next: Airlines won’t admit to schedule padding.  

7. Though flight experts say schedule padding is very common, airlines deny doing it

Airplane at Seattle Tacoma aiport

Airlines deny schedule padding. | David_Johnson/iStock/Getty Images

“The practice of buffering the airline schedule times is something that is very common, almost universal in Europe and in other parts of the world,” senior lecturer in the Department of Air Transport at Cranfield University Jim Paton told the BBC. But, according to Telegraph, airlines deny employing the practice.

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