Friday, July 07, 2006


No. I'm not talking about my plans. It's really about airplanes.

First I talked to a friend these days (Michelle) who, recently, could not work for a full day, stuck first in an airplane and then in an airport because of bad weather.

It happened to me already, more than once actually, to get flight delays because of weather - especially early mornings going from São Paulo to Curitiba or Porto Alegre. Foggy cities are these - forget the stereotype of sunny beaches and bikini girls that is generally associated with the word Brazil. Porto Alegre, with its German/Italian descendants and its weather, is more like a suburb of London.

Anyway, as much as weather delays has bothered me in the past, I think it must happen so much more frequently in America, because of the "hubs". In South America, flights between small- to medium-sized cities are not frequent, so the majority of the flights are direct.

But in America (except for Southwest Airlines), all flights kind of converge to big airports first (the hubs, like Atlanta or Dallas) and then people connect to another small city. Like Michelle went from Miami to Little Rock via Dallas, which is a kind of a triangle in the map. Then, if the big hub has a problem, it is suddenly EVERYONE'S problem.

Here the delays are much more due to agressive targets of turnaround time set by the airlines. I've seen Gol, the low-cost carrier, land, let a full plane of people out, put another full plane of people in, and then takes off in SEVENTEEN minutes. Seriously. I've been told their target is 25 minutes, and their network is designed to that, but my POM classes taught me about variance in service time - and hence there are a lot of delays caused by late people, bags that don't fit as cabin luggage, wheelchaired guys, and so on.

Apart from the delays, Gol is pretty OK - I've flown easyjet in Europe and Gol is far better in my opinion. Though my friend Tim disagrees - a delay in a Gol flight he took made him miss an Europe connection and sleep in the Rio airport lounge for a couple of days.

Anyway, Gol has a general perception of being inferior to TAM (the other carrier), which I disagree - apart from the delays. Gol planes are newer and faster. Turnaround is faster. They have a great inflight magazine. Flights are 30% cheaper on average. I'm sending my Mom off on vacation to her native state in the Northeast in a Gol flight with no regrets.

Plus the stewardesses at Gol are hot and wear sexy clothes. Yoo-hoo.

(soundtrack - "What's happening brother", Marvin Gaye)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hey, it looks like VOX has enabled your blog? not that you want to move over the VOX but at least youc an play with it if you want... also, if I'm not already, can you make me one of your friends in VOX? - michelle, the travel-weary