One of my photos

Slowing down

May 24th, 2008 · Posted by Skuds in Technology · 4 Comments · Technology

One other reason why I use less fuel than the average is that I tend not to drive very fast.  I’m not as slow as Jayne likes to make out, its just that I go more for gentle acceleration and braking than certain other people in this household.  What I did not know, having never really thought about it, is that the same thing applies to planes.

Stewart Mader’s blog drew attention to this story in Business Week about airlines cutting the speed of their flights to save on fuel.  In their case the savings can be quite dramatic when they accumulate.  As an example, one flight from Paris to Minneapolis was extended by 8 minutes by flying at an average of 532mph instead of 542mph which saved $535 by saving 162 gallons of fuel.

OK.  162 gallons is not a lot for a plane, especially when its only American gallons, but it all adds up. Southwest Airlines is expecting to save $42 million dollars this year by adding a couple of minutes to flights. Not bad for a speed reduction of less than 2%  Those savings will probably get negated by price rises, but even so its a good thing.

Just as important is the amount of fuel saved.  By my calculations, which means they are probably wrong, just that one airline is expecting to use 12.7 million gallons less this year.  Multiply that by all the other airlines, and even shave a few more mph off average speeds and thats a huge saving.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • skud's sister

    It is also the reason why people get charged for excess baggage – it takes additional fuel to carry extra weight. Although this would also mean that most Americans should be charged double…..

  • Skuds

    Ah. So it was a BA fuel-saving tactic to leave all the luggage behind at terminal five when all the passengers took off.

    It all makes sense now.

  • Gert

    But they don’t offer discounts for people with hand luggage only (although that is quite difficult to achieve with the liquids rule, now!)

  • Skuds

    Some airlines (and possibly more in the future) impose a surcharge for checking in bags. isn’t that really a de facto discount for only having hand luggage?

    Do people still take liberties with hand luggage?

    When I travelled a lot it seemed like some people had more hand luggage than I had in the hold. Business travellers were the worst: they tried to make sure they would not have to wait for hold baggage so took suit carriers and everything on the plane with them. Whatever rules there were on hand baggage were rarely applied.

    Others would have a sports bag or something, but then also have a laptop case, briefcase, carrier bag, duty free bags…