Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dear Congress, Thanks a Lot for the Sequestration

This past Sunday evening I arrived at Kansas City International Airport (that's "MCI" to you) on time for my flight back home to New York only to find that my flight was delayed.  At first it was only delayed by 40 minutes, but then 40 minutes became an hour, an hour became two hours, and before too long I was seriously considering taking another flight out in the morning.  Before I could get that far, they finally board us onto the plane.  Everybody rushes in and takes their seats, as if that would make any difference in making us leave sooner.  And, as you might have predicted, as soon as everybody is seated we just sit there.  And sit there.  And sit there.  So there I was, sitting on the runway for about an hour.  The pilots were in the cockpit of the plane.  All the people were on board and seated with their tray tables and seat backs in their full and upright positions.  Yet we were not going anywhere.  Now, normally when this happens it is due to the fact that you are number 18 of 33 planes trying to take off at the same time.  Not that day.  I looked out the window and saw ZERO, I repeat, ZERO planes ahead of us on the runway.  In fact, oddly enough, we seemed to be the only plane out on the runway at all.   But we were not going anywhere.


Answer after the jump.

Per Washington Post:

After months of inside-the-Beltway drama, the impact of sequestration cutbacks moved to center stage America on Monday as the aviation system was slowed by the furlough of 1,500 air traffic controllers.
With about 10 percent of the controllers who direct 23,000 planes a day scheduled to be off daily until October, both industry and government officials forecast that the effect would snowball as the nation enters peak travel season.
Short on staff and besieged by brisk winds at the three big New York area airports, controllers fell behind by mid-morning Monday and never caught up. The Newark, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports reported delays of one to three hours.
Most flights from the major Washington area airports ran close to on time, but some headed to New York faced long delays on the ground.
When New York’s three mega-airports fall behind schedule, that often has a ripple effect as far as the West Coast. By mid-afternoon Monday, flights into the US Airways hub in Charlotte were late in arriving; by evening, airports in Miami and Los Angeles reported lengthy delays because of controller shortages. Meanwhile, an ice storm at Denver’s airport further gummed up the system.
As TV crews panned across anxious and angry passengers in New York terminals, the debate revived in Washington over whether the controller furloughs announced last week were necessary or a White House ploy to dramatize the effects of sequestration.
“Our aviation system should not be used as a pawn in budget debate,” said Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association. “The livelihood of our economy is dependent on air commerce, and the financial strength of our airlines and the people they employ are at risk.”
He predicted that delays would spread in the weeks ahead if the Federal Aviation Administration presses on with a plan to recoup $200 million of the $637 million it must cut to meet sequestration goals this fiscal year.
After the furlough plan was presented last week, House Republicans insisted that FAA cuts should be made elsewhere and the airlines went to court in an attempt to block them. The Obama administration brushed off suggestions that air travel had become “a political football,” but crowds of delayed passengers undoubtedly made better television than announcements that federal office workers would have to take unpaid days off.
The FAA has estimated that a third of passengers will face delays during the furloughs, with up to 6,700 flights arriving late at more than a dozen major airports each day. On the worst travel day of 2012, when severe weather crippled the system, about 3,000 flights were delayed.

We often wonder how all of the BS in Congress can possibly affect our day to day lives.  And, assuming that it doesn't or can't, we go on about our business completely unaware of what those 435 people in Congress are doing (or, as the case may be, not doing).  Well folks, I'm here to tell you that my life has just been directly affected by Congress and I can't appreciate it.  In this case I was on my way home, but what if I had been racing back to see a dying relative?  Or what if I needed to get to a business deal on time?  These kind of unnecessary delays are unacceptable and should not be tolerated by any of us.  Yet somehow I don't see enough people getting pissed off enough to vote their conscience on this issue.  Make no mistake about it, making things into a voting issue is the only way that we can influence Congress to get up off of their collective lazy asses and do anything other than focusing on their own reelection.

Thanks a lot, Congress.

Has this happened to you?
Do you have a flight to catch over the next 6 months?
Were you hoping to get there on time?
What if you flew back for a family or business event and missed the entire event due to this mess?
Can we get rid of the entire Congress and just start over?
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