Update 26 April, 2 pm: The US House of Representatives cleared legislation Friday that allows the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) to shift $253 million from other accounts to end the
furloughs that were aimed at reducing the FAA's budget
before their fiscal year ends in September, reports USA Today.
15,000 fewer air-traffic controllers on the job, the furloughs, which began on
22 April, caused 3,088 flight delays in just three days, the FAA reported.
The “Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013”, which the Senate approved Thursday, gives the FAA the flexibility to
shift pre-existing funds to keep controllers on the job and keep
open some of the nearly 150 control towers at small- and medium-sized airports that
were facing closure as a result of budget
Though the furloughs could
end immediately under the bill, the FAA expects a lingering period of delays due
to staffing changes, particularly in New York, Chicago, Tampa and the Southwest
the bill’s approval, two airline associations – Airlines for America and the
Regional Airline Association – filed a motion with the Department of
Transportation (DOT) to temporarily lift a 2009 ruling that prevents US flights and their
passengers from remaining on the tarmac longer than three hours, arguing that it would
provide airlines with the operating flexibility needed to respond to expected
flight delays as a result of the furloughs.
The motion was filed as a response to the FAA’s projection that delays
would reach 6,700 daily as a result of the furloughs, not including weather or
mechanical delays. In all of 2012, the highest number of US flight delays
experienced on a single day was 2,994, according to the motion.
While the approval
of the Flight Delays Act could ensure fewer delays, it remains unclear how long
it will take to enact as the US heads into peak flying season. When preparing
to fly, take the following steps to help safeguard your schedule and sanity:
an early morning flight to avoid a build up of delays later in the day.
there early and give yourself plenty of time between transfers and connecting
up food and water before boarding so you are not forced to pay airline prices
for sandwiches, snacks and drinks in the event of a long wait.
the restroom before you board and, if you are delayed, as soon as you are able
to move around the cabin. On-board bathroom conditions can worsen as your time
spent waiting on the tarmac increases.
all electronic devices fully before boarding and keep phone calls short. Flight
attendants should let you know when electronic devices are safe to use as you