Making up time during a flight: Can pilots make delayed flights go faster? (VIDEO).

Can an Airline Pilot Really Make Up Time During a Delayed Flight?

Can an Airline Pilot Really Make Up Time During a Delayed Flight?

Slate in motion.
Nov. 21 2014 1:52 PM

Can an Airline Pilot Really Make Up Time During a Flight?

Or is it just a way of calming passengers?

456142062-passengers-wait-in-line-to-reschedule-flights-at-ohare
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Passengers wait in line to reschedule flights at O'Hare International Airport on September 26, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. All flights in and out of Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports were halted this morning because of a suspected arson fire at a suburban Chicago air traffic control facility. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Though it’s a myth that Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time of the year, tight travel windows mean delays can sting especially hard during the holidays. In 2011, J. Bryan Lowder and Andrew Bouvé investigated whether pilots can really “make up time in the air” when a flight is running late. Watch the video below.

Airline pilots like to reassure delayed passengers that they’ll make up some of the lost time in the air. But if pilots can really make a trip go faster, why don’t they always do it? Can they really shave some time off a flight when they feel like it?

Andrew Bouvé is an Emmy-nominated freelance video producer and motion graphics artist. He lives in Washington, D.C.

J. Bryan Lowder is a Slate associate editor and the editor of Outward. He covers life, culture, and LGBTQ issues.