Kevin Garrison writes a good article on AvWeb about Aviation delays and debunking the myth the airlines have put forth that small aircraft are the cause. This from the perspective of someone flying one of the big jets for a major airline.
Two things are worth noting. The first and most important is that the pilots for the big airlines are not the guys at fault in this situation and are usually sympathetic to fighting the con job their management are trying to pull off. These guys have been the biggest victim of the management incompetence of the major airlines as they have tried to deal with the shifts in their wacky business models. Their work conditions get worse, they get screwed out of their pensions, and meanwhile they feel like they are being encouraged to lie to their customers.
The second is that he points out the real cause of these traffic screw ups- the major airlines for some reason tend to schedule just about every airplane they are flying to take off and leave at the same time.
Now, it may make the schedules look clean at your major hub to have every arrival at 3pm and every departure at 4pm. I bet its even easier on the scheduling software. But its not going to actually work. Unless of course your aim is to intentionally make sure passengers miss their connections so you can avoid having the pay the bump-fees. Hmmm…
So just a reminder. Next time you are out on a taxiway in a line of 20 airplanes waiting to take off. Its not the little-guy holding you up. Its unlikely that we are taking off from the same runway and when we do, we tend to slip in between the jet departures (since we can often take off quickly and turn out of the departure path to get out of the way). Anytime there are 20 jets stacked up other than some major issue with the runway, its a clear sign that the folks running the airline you are flying couldn’t figure out how to coordinate schedules to spread things out a bit in a more sensible way. For organizations responsible for billion dollar machines flying through the air, this stuff should be pretty basic.