Image: A passenger looks at a flight monitor that shows numerous delayed and canceled flights at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
Brendan Hoffman  /  Getty Images file
A passenger looks at a flight monitor showing delayed and canceled flights at Baltimore / Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in Linthicum, Md.
updated 10/19/2010 8:56:42 AM ET 2010-10-19T12:56:42

Airline flight delays cost passengers more than inconvenience — $16.7 billion more — according to a study delivered to the Federal Aviation Administration on Monday.

The FAA-funded study looks at the cost to passengers for flight delays in 2007, the latest year for which complete data was available when researchers began working on the study.

Unlike past studies of the impact of flight delays, researchers looked more broadly at the costs associated with flight delays, including passengers' lost time waiting for flights and then scrambling to make other arrangements when flights are canceled.

  1. Don't miss these Travel stories
    1. AP
      Incredible marvels in engineering

      “Infrastructure is what makes our lives possible; it’s what makes travel possible,” says Blaine Leonard, president of the ASCE. Here are nine new or soon-to-debut projects that are worth a visit. Full story

    2. Ticket sales brisk at revamped Colosseum
    3. NYT: The tricks and trials of traveling while fat
    4. How to avoid bedbugs when you're in a hotel
    5. Low-cost carriers don't mean cheapest fares

The cost to airlines for delays was $8.3 billion, mostly for crew, fuel and maintenance. Overall, the cost was $33 billion, including to other parts of the economy. But one finding of the study is that more than half the cost associated with flight delays is borne by passengers.

Those costs likely were lower in the three years since 2007, due to the weakened economy. Air travel peaked in 2007 before the economy went sour. And so did flight delays and cancellations. In 2007, 1.3 million domestic flights were delayed and 119,000 flights canceled, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Last year, 85,000 flights were delayed and 63,000 canceled. Mark Hansen, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the study, said he believes 2007 is a more representative year "since we think that the weak economy isn't a permanent thing."

  1. Most popular

There will always be flight delays due to mechanical problems or weather, but they can be significantly reduced by expanding the capacity of the nation's airports and air traffic control system. The FAA is in the midst of a program to modernize the air traffic control system, replacing World War II-era radar with satellite-based technology. The program is expected to cost government and industry about $40 billion.

The FAA has said the program is necessary to meet an anticipated greater demand for air travel.

The Washington Post first reported the study's findings on Monday.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments