Being on time is more important than getting everyone there
[In the United States], the Department of Transportation has put such an emphasis on on-time performance that we pretty much aren’t allowed to delay a flight anymore, even if there are 20 people on a connecting flight that’s coming in just a little late. – Commercial pilot from North Carolina.
We fudge numbers when it comes to flight time
No, it’s not your imagination: airlines really have adjusted their flight arrival times so they can have a better record of on-time arrivals. So they might say a flight takes two hours when it really takes an hour and 45 minutes. – AirTran Airways captain, US.
We are often low on fuel
I’m constantly under pressure to carry less fuel than I’m comfortable with. Airlines are always looking at the bottom line, and you burn fuel carrying fuel. Sometimes if you carry just enough fuel and you hit thunderstorms or delays, then suddenly you’re running out of gas and you have to go to an alternate airport. – Captain at a major US airline.