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Love your show! Listen as often as possible. I feel the need for clarification since so many travelers just don't know. I'm an air traffic controller at Syr Tower but I've also worked at Houston and New York Regional Centers. Yeah, yeah, don't ask me about the stress. It's something we live with. As far as I'm concerned, my job is no more stressful than a stay-at-home mom trying to get dinner ready, make sure all the wash is done, get Susie off to her piano lesson and Frank picked up from his soccer practice, pay the bills and then act supportive to a grumpy husband coming home from work at an unfriendly climb-the-ladder corporate structure.

But I digress. My real point is about airline delays. Often when people sit aboard flights waiting for takeoff, they hear the typical pilot remarks about an "atc" ground enforced delay. "We'll get goin' as soon as they let us" is an often-heard remark. Well, I'm tired of gettin' the blame. Believe me, if we could launch we would. The last thing I want to do is explain gate-hold procedures with a pilot when he knows what is causing the delays. And you being the "savvy traveler", I'm sure you know what causes the delays. I'll pretend an underling gets this email though and doesn't have a clue so I'll spell it out. If it's not the controllers, and not the weather, than what could it be? The airlines. Wait! How can the airlines be the cause of the most worried about event in air travel? Well here's why...it's called AAR or airport arrival rate. Every airport has one, even Joe's County Airpark with it's 3000 ft grass strip, though he probably doesn't publish his AAR. But every airport has an AAR. The airlines know what it is, and know that the maximum AAR for a given airport is based on optimum conditions. Great weather, no construction at the airport, no de-icing, no military operations or NASA space shots, no turbulence, no wind shear, no cross winds, and land-and-hold-short operations are being used. If all of these things are going well, then the max AAR can be met. Unfortunately, the planets don't line up everyday. We have thunderstorms, we have wind problems-specifically in the NY area because you have 3 major airports all within a dozen miles of each other and sometimes the wind requires stopping departures at one airport so others can get off at another airport. Sometimes icing and low ceilings cause extended spaces between arrivals. Sometimes the space shuttle launches and different routes are effected. Sometimes the AAR is lowered because of these problems. Well, Mr. Savvy Traveler, this happens nearly every day. Yup, on most days, we have some type of constriction. But the airlines don't care and so they plan on getting 62 arrivals into Boston this afternoon, and why not? That's the AAR, isn't it? Oh, you say there's a line of thunderstorms driving through central Mass, with winds changing from the southeast to the west? IFR conditions?

The AAR just went to 38 but the problem is, we have 62 flights scheduled to arrive at Logan in the next hour. What are the other 24 going to do? Hold of course, but what about all of the other arrivals going to do in the next hr? My point exactly. A ground stop is initiated, a delay program follows. See, if you remember the Jack Lemmon classic- "The Out of Towners", you'll remember how they held over NY for a long time. That doesn't happen much anymore because it makes more sense to hold people on the ground and not use up gas circling over your destination. But the pilot almost always says "sorry folks but ATC has us hanging out hear at the gate...enjoy some free drinks on u and I hope they'll work this little snafoo out..." Right. I'd love to hear a pilot say: "folks, we can't get going yet because Atlanta has a typical afternoon with thunderstorms and wind shear and unfortunately for you guys aboard this flight, our company has scheduled 60 flights into Atlanta but they can't take but 45. We hafta wait for a slot time and I hope you all make your connections. Thank you for flying "we're-not-to-blame airline." So, you see, I just wanna pass the buck to the next dealer. We're not to blame either.



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