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United Schedules Earlier Departures

Wed May 23, 2007 7:18 am


"The nation's second-largest carrier is scheduling earlier departure times in about 20 U.S. cities starting in June, eyeing a summer air-travel crush that's expected to be worse than usual. That means those flights will leave an average 15 minutes sooner and as early as 5:40 a.m., United said Tuesday."

"We're trying to make this change to improve our schedule - to optimize our revenue, better use our aircraft and provide our customers with more connection options," spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said."
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RE: United Schedules Earlier Departures

Wed May 23, 2007 7:47 am

I think this is probably a good idea. If UA starts its flights earlier, then it may be able to extend turn around times. With high summer load factors, then delays might decrease.

As awesome as that would be, I'm afraid, UA will just increase its number of flights. This will increase revenue, but delays will be massive anytime there is a cloud near O'Hare.
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RE: United Schedules Earlier Departures

Wed May 23, 2007 7:57 am

I remember back in the late 70's and early 80's the first bank of United fights left SFO between 0500 and 0545hrs. I remember taking the early flight to PDX that stopped in RNO in enroute but still beat everyone else to the Rose City. And the first arrivals also started to arrive just after 0530hrs from the hot spots of MOD and other one stop light towns in the central valley.
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RE: United Schedules Earlier Departures

Wed May 23, 2007 8:05 am

I noticed that while shopping flights between BWI and ORD. The 5:40 departure puts you into Chicago at 6:30 or so which gives bureaucrats enough time for a two mimosa breakfast and a two martini lunch before heading back to the DC-area! I, for one, think that super early westbound departures are awesome because they give you that much more time to go about your business (or leisure).

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RE: United Schedules Earlier Departures

Wed May 23, 2007 8:18 am

Interesting logic here. If you leave a little earlier than everyone else you may just avoid some delays in the big morning push. That means fuel savings and a better on-time percentage.

I wonder how popular this is will be with customers however. Will customers purchase tickets at the earlier time? I can assume how front line employees scheduled in the morning feel about having to be at work even earlier.
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RE: United Schedules Earlier Departures

Wed May 23, 2007 8:23 am

I noticed it too. OMA-ORD is 550AM instead of 600AM. Still doesn't compare to 500AM on northwest from OMA to MSP. I've been on that before and believe or not, it was still a full flight. I couldn't believe it.
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RE: United Schedules Earlier Departures

Wed May 23, 2007 8:56 am

What's the status on United drawing down its summer schedule due to lack of pilots? Aren't the pilots limiting the amount of extra flying they're allowed to do? Is United going to make the same summer of 2000 mistake and try to fly a full schedule without enough pilots?
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RE: United Schedules Earlier Departures

Wed May 23, 2007 9:42 am

Sounds good....people can get more places and more connections. I dont have a problem waking up a lil early if it means I can get to a place in one day
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RE: United Schedules Earlier Departures

Wed May 23, 2007 10:57 am

IIRC, CO & US (maybe others) have had early departures for quite some time. US has a 0500-ish departure BOS-CLT, and various other flights to hubs departing BOS well before 0600. I'm not sure how these flights do on a load/revenue/margin performance basis, but it will give pax the opportunity to catch early AM connections.

Overall, I think this is a wise move on United's part for operational reasons only. Even at the bright and early hour of 0600, there are often slot departure times out of the major east coast cities to ORD (not to be confused with flow control; slot times are staggered departure times generated by downline ATC centers for purposes of traffic management). A few times on UA525, what was (is?) the 0600 BOS-ORD flight, I've had to wait on the taxiway up to 30 minutes.

Additionally, by departing before 0600, UA will avoid the often long lines of aircraft taxiing at 0600.

This should improve UA's STAR (Start the Airline Right) departure performance considerably.

On the downside, earlier flight schedules will definitely impact employees' schedules, many whom already have shifts that begin at 0430, 0400, or earlier. For anyone who has not worked for an airline, you can not imagine how disruptive it is to work extremely early or late shifts, especially if you have a family. For me, it was the most negative aspect my airline career, and one of the main reasons why I ended it almost one year ago. I'm sure there will be people who say, "you knew you'd have to work odd hours when you took the job." Frankly, this is true, but for what you get in return for being an airline employee, it just isn't worth it nowadays. That's it for my commentary.  Smile It's much more fun to be an armchair quarterback when it comes to the airline industry.