My Terrible Flight Luck The Past Few Weeks…

Filed Under: Travel

A vast majority of my flying the past few years has been longhaul international flights. That means I’m flying very long flights but not that many segments every year. That’s also probably partly why I’ve been so lucky, because I feel like for a year or so I didn’t have any sort of serious delay (I might be forgetting something, but…).

However, in the past 3.5 weeks I’ve had mechanical delays on four of my eight flights, and I’m starting to wonder if I’m just cursed, or what:

  • My flight from Frankfurt to Whitehorse on Condor was delayed; they couldn’t fix the problem, so they had to find us a new plane
  • My flight from Vancouver to Los Angeles was delayed due to a mechanical, which lasted about two hours
  • My flight from Detroit to San Francisco was delayed by about two hours due to an indicator light
  • I’m currently sitting in the gate area at Miami Airport trying to fly to Quito; to quote the captain “the critical navigation system isn’t working, and that’s a problem,” so we’ve now been deplaned, and “you’re flying on the special 737 MAX, and this is the only type of 737 we have capable of flying to Quito, so we’ll see if we can find another one of those”

So four of my last eight flights have had pretty significant mechanical delays. That’s 50%, vs. somewhere around 0% for the year prior.

Am I just really unlucky, or…?

  1. I work in airline scheduling and there has been a notable increase in delayed flights the last couple weeks. Most of the delays have been due to the large weather systems around the world but I would say even those destinations not impacted by weather systems have bene impacted by longer than normal delays. Mechanical delays don’t usually have a pattern but in general OTP seems to be down.

  2. You’re THE Lucky. Count on that. A few coincidences can happen.
    – Condor had an old plane and that can happen
    – The B737Max is a new plane with teething problems. Can happen too.

  3. I believe you can take this valuable time to study the statistical concept of regression toward the mean………

  4. I totally understand how you feel. When I read this and realized you were still in the airport I had to laugh when I realized how similar we are. Sometimes you just gotta let people know how you feel. It will all be good. And just ignore the negative people like Mark and K.

    Have a great rest of the trip.

  5. Today’s CX830 HK-JFK delayed more than four hours, missed our original connection JFK-DCA, finally in taxi in DC on way home.

    I have a knack for making these flight delay posts about me, huh? 🙂

  6. We all have streaks of luck I guess. I had what seemed like constant mechanical issues and delays a couple of years ago but the past two years have seen very few issues (and I fly United). Knocking on wood…

  7. I’m reading while waiting on the tarmac on my AA flight at La Guardia and I was supposed to take off 3 hours ago. Captain keeps saying “only 20 more minutes”. Hope you fly soon. I just saw flight aware and your plane still hasn’t taken off yet 🙁

  8. Hello from the Santa Cruz bound flight right next door at D15! Didn’t see this post before I boarded, otherwise would have gone to say hi to you. Good luck and hope you get on your way to Quito soon!

  9. I am surprised they “require” a 737MAX to fly MIA-UIO. It is not a particularly long flight and I know they used to fly MIA-GYE with 737s when I did research last year for a trip that way.

  10. Entitled much? You make your living off sitting on big machines that are prone to having problems and breaking down. How on Earth can this be a surprise? Boo hoo.

  11. Super unlucky! In recent days I flew two of the crappiest airlines on the crappiest planes (Ukrainian; Pegasus) and yet all the flights arrived on time.

  12. over the summer had eight straight delayed flights. 45 minutes to 4.5 hours. Quite the streak. And I am not entitled.

  13. “Entitled much? You make your living off sitting on big machines that are prone to having problems and breaking down. How on Earth can this be a surprise? Boo hoo.”

    @Chris I’m thinking this isn’t the blog for you.

  14. It will often b the weird stuff we remember about a trip. Did things turn out good for u in the end?

    From someone whose CX flight was cancelled Oct. 10, but managed to get on another flight on their A390-1000 for the first time instead.

  15. @TravelinWilly

    Coming across your post totally by chance, but having just been on 831 (JFK-HKG) the day before (9 Oct) and now in HK, I realize my luck, having left sharp on time and arrived only 3 mnts late (circling between CAN and HKG).

    Extra luck was we only were 3 in F including 2 Hassidics who only ate Kosher, translating in my eating 3 caviar portions (ridiculously small, though, 20 g and not top quality), declining a 4th one on account of meeeh….). Further luck was having one seat in permanent seat position, one other in permanent bed with bedding, without having to adjust it several times.

    As Lucky just found out, good and bad experiences come in sequences. Several coming flights on MU in next few days should help average out my experiences.

  16. @ ITST — Zero, sadly. Hah. If only these had been in Europe (though in most cases they would have been slightly under the limit, as was the case with the Whitehorse flight).

  17. On final approach into LIM last night after 12 hours on a 777, and then a last minute go-around. You suddenly become very aware of the power of the screaming engines. An on-time flight became 20 minutes late.

    So what? I felt safer the whole time on that go-around than I did in the (typical) nightmare taxi race from the airport into the city.

    Given the mind-blowing complexity of air travel operations I’m frankly staggered there aren’t more delays, cancellations and cock-ups.

  18. So a quick story about luck and flight delays. Some years ago a flight I was on out of La Guardia had be deplaned. The captain told us there was a problem with the brakes and we would be put on another plane.

    Guy in front of me starts moaning and complaining. Woman in front of him, older, about 4 foot 10, clearly a New Yorker by birth, turns around and says in a voice that would reach to Nyack.

    “Are you crazy? You should just be thanking God that they found it here. You want to find out it has no brakes when we have to stop?” and begins an entire monologue addressed to the whole plane. “Am I right? Maybe he should fly? Or he’s so smart, he could fix the brakes.” as we all deplaned.

    To his credit, complaining dude just looked sheepish and made no eye contact on the next flight.

  19. Flew 5 flights last week. QF flight between Sydney & Perth delayed due to a cracked windscreen and other issues and Brisbane to Townsville by 2 hours due to a sick co-pilot!! It happens

  20. I had a 6-hour delay on Southwest because of the 737 have a 2-hour delay in the airport before Philadelphia, (Tampa), and then had another 2-hour delay due to some system not working.

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