Saturday, February 06, 2010
Cancellations and Delays: How to Avoid FAA Web Site Nonsense and Accurately Check Airport Status Data
Every time there's a major weather disruption, like that monster snowstorm still whaling today on the Washington-Philadelphia region, I'm astonished by news reports that blithely describe "scores" of flights being canceled. Why don't reporters simply go to the basic real-time sources and do the Sesame-Street-level arithmetic?
(Also, who but the tone-deaf media use the word "scores" to describe a numerical quantity? The word in that usage (a "score" equaling 20) has not actually been uttered in singular or plural form by any non-media American since Abraham Lincoln.)
For the rest of us who might want the actual information, here's how to find it easily, on Flightstats.com, which has a subscription component but which supplies basic airport operational detail for free. Registration is also free, and recommended.
--On the Flightstats.com home page, click on "Airports."
--Drop down to click on "Performance Scorecard."
--Enter an airport name or code, and click "Search."
--Viola, you will be presented with the full real-time picture in three-hour time increments -- delays for departures and arrivals, plus cancellations for the airport, as well as specific delay, departure and cancellation information for the top 10 airlines operating from that airport.
(Here's the current picture at Philadelphia International, for example.) PHL measured 26.7 inches as of 2 p.m. EST today, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper. But the New York area appeared to have ducked the storm.
Meanwhile, please, please ignore constantly repeated media information to consult the FAA delay site at FAA.gov. It's seldom timely or accurate, and often not even operational.
You think I'm kidding? With thousands of flights canceled or delayed today in the mid-Atlantic region, the worthless FAA site currently shows its map of the U.S. with all airports marked with green dots, meaning no delays or problems (except San Francisco, experiencing minor delays). Your tax dollars at work.
By the way, as of 3 p.m. EST today, CNN was still ludicrously linking to the FAA's risible "Flight Delays" site, which continued showing all green dots, like some day in May. Your cable news-media editors at work!