Timed Out on My Way Home

July 26, 2011 | By | Comments (1)

For the last five hours I have been sitting here in the Indianapolis International Airport, trying to make my way home after a three-day business trip. I have had a lovely dinner of steak sliders and salad, checked e-mail, worked on a friend’s web site and waited, patiently – for the flight to be canceled.

While a quick thinking, clearly experienced airline representative switched our flight to a competitor who could get us home tonight (or, technically, very early tomorrow morning), I asked her what had caused the cancellation. Her answer?

The flight had been canceled because the crew had timed out.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar, a crew “times out” or cannot work any more, when they have worked the maximum number of hours allowed.

This was a new concept to my traveling companion (and mom), but sadly, was not the first time I, or others I’ve known, have been forced to find alternative ways home or to stay for an extended period because the crew has timed out. Which is also why I was not surprised when it happened (I had, in fact, warned my mom that there was a chance our flight would be cancelled).

As she booked our return flight, our airline angel mentioned that time outs seemed to be happening more frequently, using the fact that I knew it was a risk as additional evidence of the phenomenon.

Sitting here on the first leg of our flight home, I still believe my travel karma is intact, and certainly am not unhappy that overworked/overtired crews are not being forced to fly me home. But I am left to wonder how much extra time I should build into my schedule the next time I travel.

Have you noticed an increase in delays and cancellations when traveling?

Pictured, my mom walks through Chicago O’Hare, an unscheduled detour on our trip home. Fingers crossed the next flight gets us home to Boston.