Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Some Firms Deserve to be Liquidated (Northwest Airlines Edition)

by Tom Bozzo

The indictment:
Of course this is personal. Of my mother's last three trips to Madison, all three have featured actual delays (i.e., actual vs. reserved time of passenger arrival, as opposed to the official actual vs. scheduled time of flight arrival) of at least five hours. On the most recent trip this past weekend, she was delayed five hours on the outbound trip and two hours on the return, for some addition of insult to injury. And she was one of the lucky ones — limited seat availability on the last flight meant that many of her fellow travelers got an involuntary overnight stay in Romulus, Michigan.

Trains, please.


NWA used to run fairly well on many of their CO "code-share" flights. But I suspect that (1) that may be an exception and (2) those who fly out of a NYC-area airport expect more delays, so that may colour my view.

That said, if their domain were given to Dre, Ice-T, and Eazy-E's estate, I doubt many outside of MSP would object.

That said, part of their problem may be that the definition of a "legal" connection--30 minutes between flights--hasn't changed in the post-9/11 world of early close and security delays. There are a few airports (MSP may be the most obvious, with MIA, ATL, and ORD also contenders) where the design means that getting from one "spoke" to another is now virtually impossible.

When your hub is a delay/missed connection waiting to happen, bad results will be the rule, not the exception.
I don't think MSP is in the same league as ORD for connection misery, though I'd agree that it's marginal at best for the role of a major airline hub. Part of the problem there seems to be that they don't have the real estate to essentially start over, as has been done with considerable success at DTW. So MSP has irremediable issues with the terminal design and runway layout.

In addition to the lack of open seats to accommodate passengers w/ missed connections, there's also an interaction with schedule cutbacks -- so to second-tier destinations like Madison, there are yawning gaps in the timetable where once there were flights.
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