Business Travel Travel News

Expect Delays At San Francisco International Airport This Month

If you’re flying in or out of the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) this month, there’s something you should know. From September 7 – September 27, two of its runways are under construction. The runway closure is causing major delays and cancellations, both on domestic and international flights, and shorter flights more affected. Here’s what you need to know and the best tips to avoid a travel issue at SFO. 

Why is construction causing delays? 

The construction project for SFO’s runway 28L was planned, but is causing flight delays and cancellations nonetheless. The runway typically serves 68% of the airport’s flights. With only two other runways operational, it’s no surprise issues are occurring. For comparison, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport has five runways, and Chicago’s O’Hare Airport has eight. This past Sunday, 266 flights were delayed and 52 were cancelled by 4pm. Though seemingly high, it is significantly lower than the previous Sunday, with 358 flights delayed and 137 cancelled.

The time frame of the project was slated for September, specifically to avoid inclement weather. As you can imagine, escaping temperamental fog and rain can be difficult in the Bay Area. Precipitation is usually low at this time of year. Airport traffic is also lower, dipping between summer travel and holiday travel. Construction started September 7, and is scheduled to be out of use until September 27. A bit of good news though, airport officials said last week that crews reached the halfway point of the project two days ahead of schedule.

What can I do to avoid flight delays or cancellations?  

Unfortunately, not much. If you must fly through SFO this month, plan for a two to three hour delay. The airlines are also doing their best to reduce travel issues. Legacy airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines, are waiving change fees during the dates of construction. Alaska Airlines and Southwest have adjusted timing of their flights and warned travelers to expect delays. Here are some other tips for flying through SFO this month:

  • If your plans are flexible, change your travel to a different day or time. SFO suggests flying out before 9am, when flight delays typically begin. 
  • If possible, fly out or into a different airport. Oakland International Airport and San Jose International Airport are both close by. 
  • If your plans are set in stone and cannot be changed, expect delays. Download the airline’s app to stay up to date on your flight’s status. Your flight may be delayed, but you could at least you’ll avoid spending it in the airport.


Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience. Contact us to learn more about our consultative approach to account management or schedule a demo of our AirPortal technology. 

Business Travel Travel Tips

Tip: Pick A Reliable Aircraft For On-Time Flights

When people book flights, their decision is typically based on price and/or schedule. But a recent study found there may be another factor to consider if you want your travel day to run smoothly.  Turns out, paying attention to the type of aircraft you will be flying on may save you from delays or cancellations.  Some aircraft models are known to need repairs more often than others. Additionally, what may be a reliable aircraft for one airline, may be the worst option of another airline. This is due to different internal repair processes between different airlines. Of course, not all flight schedules include the type of aircraft. Some busier routes offer a variety of different flights and options. Travelers on these frequent routes can often see the type of aircraft when booking reservations. 

Tips to choosing a reliable aircraft

  • Boeing 737s are the top in reliability for most airlines. In this study, United 737s out performed United 757s in less delays or cancellations. United 737s arrived on time 82% compared to United 757s at only 70% on time.
  • Most airlines are phasing out Boeing 747s by the end of this year, in an effort to improve overall reliability.
  • Regional jets have a higher rate of delays and cancellations compared to larger jets. These smaller jets are often the first to be delayed or cancelled, allowing more customers to fly on the larger jets.
  • Discount airlines often have weaker reliability than larger carriers. Fewer planes and busy schedules often mean there are less spare airplanes to replace an airplane needing repair. This leads to cancellations or long delays.
  • Planes with fancy lie-down seats often have more frequent delays and cancellations. These seats come with complicated parts that take additional time to repair if they break. Luckily, these flights are typically just delayed, as the airlines cater to these top-dollar customers.
  • Delta’s best performing aircraft is their MD-88 jets, though they are on average 26 years old. They have a cancellation rate of only 0.6% and an on-time arrival rate of 82.8%. This is an example of differences between airlines. Though the MD-88s work best for Delta, they are one of the worst performers for American Airlines. It has a cancellation rate four times higher than Delta, and arrived on time to only 69.1% of their flights.
  • Use the chart in the image above the article to find the most reliable aircraft by airline, from best to worst.

If you are a frequent business traveler, delays or cancellations can really screw with your itinerary. Try choosing your next flight based on a reliable aircraft. Let us know if the tip helped your travels by commenting on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

Business Travel

Frazzled About Flight Delays? You Are Not Alone.

National On-Time Arrival Performance (January – December, 2014)

On a recent trip, two of the four legs of my flight were delayed. My purpose for flying, in this instance, was for leisure, so while the delay was inconvenient, I did not have to make many adjustments to my schedule. As a fairly savvy traveler who rarely gets upset about travel difficulties, I found myself observing the reactions of the other passengers on the aircraft to see who was affected and how.

The majority of delays occur for the safety of the passenger (ie. weather or mechanical), however in the height of a frustrating situation, one might feel that they are the only person who is late, uncomfortable, and tired. But in reality, we are all affected by delays and schedule changes. Here is how:

1) The Airport

One delayed flight will result in dozens of gate changes and schedule alterations due to runway capacity restrictions. This is very similar to when your doctor runs late on their first appointment of the day causing them to run late on every appointment for the rest of the day–only on a much larger scale.

2) The Airline

Studies have shown that airlines with higher delay percentages have higher operating costs. Not only are they compensating passengers should they be at fault for the delay, but they are also having to pay their flight crew and gate agents for extra time, as well as any extra fuel and necessary maintenance. In the instance of longer delays and cancellations, there is always a percentage of travelers who make other arrangements, resulting in a less than full flight. Additionally, there is the cost of the food and beverages consumed on-board should the delay occur after the plane is already boarded.

3) The Flight Crew

As much as you want to get to your destination, remember that your flight crew also wants to get to theirs. Before you yell at your pilot or flight attendant for your discomfort, keep in mind that they might be on their last flight of the day and the delay is causing them to be late for something important as well. Delays result in cranky passengers, whom the flight crew now has to deal with.

4) The Passenger

Aside from the frustration of waiting for the resolution of a situation that is out of your control, the passenger’s biggest loss is time. Meetings get cancelled, dinners get missed, client presentations get called off, and tensions rise. Not to mention that extra snack or best seller you are going to buy to help you pass the time while you are waiting.

So next time your flight is delayed, try to keep in mind that there are many factors at play and a lot of people affected. A little patience can go a long way. The attached graphic details airline on-time performance for the entire country for 2014 as reported by the US Department of Transportation. Click here for more information.