The 40% exaggeration theory

One of the things I enjoy most about flying is being stuck in a metal tube with hundreds of strangers from all walks of life. There’s very little that’s consistent when it comes to seatmates, and I think I’ve heard it all over the years, from the guy that felt the need to tell me he had the flu within a minute of sitting down next to me, to the lady that wouldn’t stop harping to me about what a slut her daughter is.

Anyway, there is one thing I’ve found to be pretty consistent: people love to exaggerate flight times by 40%. I’ve noticed this more and more recently, and when I do the math it’s always right around 40%. On an SFO-JFK redeye last weekend my seatmate was talking on his cell about how the flight would be seven hours once we take off. No, it’s five hours. On a different trip from IAD-JFK, my seatmate was telling me how she was about to get on a 15 hour flight to Cairo. No, it’s 10.5 hours.

Am I the only one that has noticed this? Either passengers are accurate or they go over by 40%, at least in most cases. Rarely do I hear someone exaggerate by 10-20%.

Random? Yes. Useless? Probably. But isn’t that what makes it perfect material for my blog. 😉

Filed Under: Travel
  1. Have you ever tried to get out of JFK on 4.00pm flight? The taxi time is close to 4.5 hours. On a JetBlue flight two years ago, I thought something was wrong, but JFK controllers definitely asked us to taxi via, golf, tango, New Jersey Turnpike, Connecticut, to runway 37L.

  2. I read somewhere that someone recently spent 6.5 hrs on an RJ going from JFK to IAD.

    But then, that might have been exaggerated by 40%, too 🙂

  3. The 40% exaggeration theory applies to many things in life. I’ve been caught adding on 40% to my private part.

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