April 29, 2006
Gordon's Choice
Posted by Gordon Smith

Nwa Has anyone around here mentioned how much we despise air travel? Oh, yeah. And here and here. But see.

This morning, my flight from Boston to Detroit was delayed by about an hour for maintenance problems. This was a 6 am flight ... one of the first flights of the new day! Why is Northwest lining up defective planes for the first flights?!

Anyway, the delay caused me to miss my connection to Madison, which means that I am blogging this from the lovely Northwest terminal in Detroit.

En route to Detroit, I was reading David Hoffman's law review article, The "Duty" to be a Rational Investor, 90 Minn. L. Rev. 537 (2006), which rehearses the various cognitive biases that have become part of the standard account in behavioral law and economics. The message: investors are irrational.

Fresh on the heels of that, I was given this choice:

  • Leave Detroit at noon and arrive in Madison at 3:30 pm ... via O'Hare, or
  • Leave Detroit at 5:00 pm and arrive in Madison at 5:30 pm (direct flight).

Which would you take? I took the second option. When is the last time you went through O'Hare in the middle of the afternoon without some sort of catastrophe?

In the meantime, I am hoping to board a direct flight to Madison at noon. I am the first name on standby.

UPDATE: Well, my standby strategy failed. The flight was overbooked. Fifteen minutes prior to boarding, it looked like one seat would be open, and they called me to the counter. But alas, the passenger showed up about 10 minutes before the plane was scheduled to take off.

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Comments (20)

1. Posted by Jeff Lipshaw on April 29, 2006 @ 8:37 | Permalink

Take the flight to O'Hare. Arrive about noon. Bag the second half of the connection and rent a one-way National car (I think they charge $10 extra for the one way.) Drive to Madison. Arrive before either alternative.

2. Posted by TexasRainmaker on April 29, 2006 @ 13:53 | Permalink

3. Posted by Motor City Math Man on April 29, 2006 @ 15:16 | Permalink

I presume the word "lovely" is genuine, yes? Because unlike most everything else in metro Detroit, the airport terminal actually is very lovely!

4. Posted by F451 on April 29, 2006 @ 15:20 | Permalink

'Why is Northwest lining up defective planes for the first flights?!'

They aren't. More likely than not, the airplane was going through scheduled maintenance the night before. If some sort of unanticipated damage was found during the visit, Northwest would have to delay the plane until it could be fixed.

First-thing-in-the-morning flights have always been most prone to this sort of delay. Probably always will be.

5. Posted by David on April 29, 2006 @ 16:12 | Permalink

Northwest + Detroit = disaster.


NW and Minnie - ok
NW and Madison - ok
NW and Chicago - ok

Detroit - always sucks. I will do just about anything to avoid it

6. Posted by Jim,MtnViewCA,USA on April 29, 2006 @ 16:16 | Permalink

As my MI relatives say "Northworst".
I trust their pilots, they get a lot of practice flying in bad weather.
But the rest of the operation seems a bit shaky at times....

7. Posted by Mike Rentner on April 29, 2006 @ 16:25 | Permalink

The point is that they're NOT giving you a defective plane. They're giving you a plane that is NOT defecive.

The most likely time to find something wrong with a plane is first thing in the morning.

The world isn't perfect, sometimes actual work has to be done to make your life easier.

8. Posted by Lee on April 29, 2006 @ 16:44 | Permalink

I got a defective plane from Northwest in Detroit. After delay, delay, delay we finally boarded an aircraft and then just sat there tied to the terminal. Eventually, we were told this aircraft needed a mandatory maintenance check and would not be flying. So, we all trooped back off into the boarding area.

While we were all sitting on that plane to nowhere the next flight on that route had arrived, disembarked, reloaded, and left.

You don't suppose Northwest knew all the time that our plane wasn't going to fly and they just used it to clear the boarding area for the next flight and to hide from us that the next flight was just going to breeze past us?

Hard as I try, I just can't find a way to be too cynical about Northwest.

9. Posted by Paul L. Quandt on April 29, 2006 @ 16:56 | Permalink

That should teach you to fly Northwest, likely the worst airline in the USA.

10. Posted by Gordon Smith on April 29, 2006 @ 17:33 | Permalink

Motor City Math Man: Yes, I was not trying to be sarcastic about the Northwest terminal. It is nice, even if not the place I want to spend an entire Saturday.

As for all of you who pointed out that morning is the best time to catch problems, my point is simply that they should catch such problems before they cause delays. Delays like this one have ripple effects throughout the day.

Finally, I haven't had generally bad experiences with Northwest, even in Detroit. Of course, all of you must recognize that it is a question of options. It's either Northwest through Detroit or United or American through Chicago. My experience has been that anything beats any airline through O'Hare.

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