Flights are departing and landing all over the globe at any given time, yet a frequent source of frustration for passengers is when either takes place behind schedule. Travellers’ often plan connecting flights to further locations on the basis of their arrival time. Others judge taxi pick ups or accommodation on how much time their journey will take, including the travelling time in the air. Yet a trick often used by airlines has come to light which shows how they add on time to a flight length, in order to then be on schedule and avoid potential repercussions.
Confused? Flight compensation solicitors at Bott and Co spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk to shed light on the technique they call schedule padding.
They said: “Schedule padding is a method used by pilots and airlines in which they build in time to the estimation of a flight duration.
“This means that if you leave your departure airport late, upon landing it won’t count as late as it is still within the scheduled time.
“It is effectively a buffer that adds time on to a scheduled flight, e.g. a flight scheduled for five hours could actually be four and a half hours.”
They suggest one reason for this could be to “potentially avoid pay outs.”
They cited a Which? survey dating back to August 2018 which found that scheduled flight times are on average 35 minutes slower than they were in 2008.
A total of 76 out of 125 flights analysed were ‘slower’ than they were in the previous decade, and the spokesperson added: “This is largely due to the fact that airlines tinker with their schedules to improve punctuality records.”
Yet the firm did take into account the flip side, and the reasons why schedule padding might be needed.
They told Express.co.uk: “A passenger is going to feel more content if they believe they have arrived at their destination 10 minutes early, rather than on time or late.
“So in this sense, it could be perceived as a win-win for both parties involved, airlines and passengers.
“Some may argue that an admirable reason to increase the built-in time of a flight is related to the environment, i.e. the slower a flight travels, the less fuel the plane uses, hence helping the planet.”
Lastly, Bott and Co told how schedule padding could potentially prevent a “domino effect” of delayed flights, an argument it said had been used by airlines.
They told Express.co.uk: “It’s worth noting that passengers can claim up to €600 for flights that have been delayed by more than three hours under EU rules.
“Airlines are exempt from making payments for circumstances outside their control, such as bad weather.”
The company’s website offers advice to travellers looking to claim compensation for a delayed flight.