American Airlines is re-timing flights at several key hubs, including Dallas Fort/Worth International Airport, Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Miami International Airport, so more flights depart and arrive at roughly the same times.
The goal is profitability and efficiency. American wants to push as many travelers through its largest operations as possible. Other airlines do the same thing at some of their hubs, but American got away from the practice in recent years.
The system works like this: American will schedule arrivals from throughout the country to arrive at around the same time, let's say 10 a.m. Then, about an hour later, all those aircraft are scheduled to leave at the same time. The system is frenetic, but it means American can accommodate far more connecting passengers than it could when it essentially scheduled aircraft at random. The new schedules have already started in Miami, with Chicago and Dallas coming soon.
American says the shift is worth $200 million in annual revenue. But unless you own stock in American, you don't care about profitability. You only care about what it means for you. So let's take a look.
1. You will find easier connections. With the new system, you're likely to have shorter connections, with an average of maybe one hour. When the system works, passengers will find it more efficient. You won't have to wait around all day for your second flight. "On average, a customer’s connect time has been reduced by 20 minutes," Marilyn DeVoe, American's vice president for Miami, said in a recent employee newsletter.
2. The system waits for no man. Let's say your flight to Dallas is running a few minutes late. Your second flight likely will leave without you. And you'll have to wait for the next 'bank' of flight, which could be in four hours. It's simply too expensive for American told hold your second flight.
3. The terminal will be crowded. When flights come and go, the terminal is packed with people. Lines are long. It won't be easy to get a sandwich. And if there's a thunderstorm in Miami and you need help from an American agent, you might have to wait awhile.
4. You'll find happier employees. OK. I actually don't believe this. But DeVoe, the American vice president, mentioned it in her interview for the employee newsletter Because of the new system, there will actually be large swaths of the day with few flights. "While they have more work to do in a shorter amount of time during peaks, employees will also have the opportunity to take a breath until the next bank either arrives or departs," she said.
4. American says it is prepared. The airline says it has staffed up in Miami to prepare for all travelers coming through at the same time. "American hired 67 more gate agents and 150 baggage handlers and other ground workers before the August change," Scott McCartney wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal. "It had to purchase more belt-loaders, dollies and tugs that push planes out from gates."