Flight departure/arrival times
September 14, 2016 9:46 AM   Subscribe

What exactly is scheduled to happen at a flight's published departure and arrival times?

Hypothetical question #1: Flight 123's published departure time is 7:45 PM because that's when:
  1. the jetway door is closed
  2. the plane begins pushback from the gate
  3. the plane is in takeoff position
  4. the plane begins takeoff
  5. the landing gear is retracted
  6. something else I haven't considered
Question #2 is the same except for arrival times.
posted by davcoo to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
A pilot friend of mine once told me that those are times that the plane starts and stops moving, so #2 for departures and "plane is in position for the gate" for arrivals.
posted by Etrigan at 9:56 AM on September 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

At my airline, scheduled departure time is when the brake is released, scheduled arrival time is when the brake is put on at the gate.
posted by jaksemas at 10:33 AM on September 14, 2016 [9 favorites]

Some of these are airline specific, but commonly in the US the jetway door closes 10 minutes before departure time.

Take-off/wheels up is dependent on how long the conga line of planes is ahead of you. At some airports, the first flight of the day has a very long wait to take-off because they start loading passengers about an hour before the noise abatement allows planes to leave the ground. That means that every gate will have a plane in the line waiting for go-time. There's some padding in the schedule that allows for that, as an example Southwest flies eight non-stop flights a day between SAN and OAK. The first flight has a 5 minute longer duration than the second flight. Same distance, but flights are scheduled as slightly shorter all day.

In civil aviation in the USA, on-time is measured gate to gate. Wheels up/wheels down has too many additional variables.
posted by 26.2 at 10:39 AM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Plane moving, so #2.
posted by so fucking future at 10:57 AM on September 14, 2016

This is a truly excellent question. It would be nice to see answers with cited sources, if possible.
posted by splitpeasoup at 8:04 AM on September 15, 2016

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