The Flight Delay Effect

By Mark Bertrang, The Creator of the Financialoscopy® on Wednesday, November 22nd 2023


Here's a transcript of the video presentation for today. It's a conversation between Mark Bertrang and Nate Becker regarding a cascade of unfortunate flight cancellations and rescheduling and how this is analogous to potential retirement realities.

Mark: A couple of months ago you were supposed to end up in Tampa, Florida for a national conference. You were supposed to leave early in the morning on Tuesday and be in Tampa by mid-day. What happened instead?

Nate: Well, you’re right. I was supposed to be leaving early in the morning to go to Tampa, but it didn’t really work out. I was scheduled to leave the La Crosse Regional Airport on Tuesday morning.  I booked my travel plans months in advance, as usual. I was scheduled to leave at 6 a.m. to fly to Chicago for a connecting flight, which boarded at 7:22 a.m., and then leave Chicago at 8:35 a.m. to be in Tampa by 12:13 p.m.

Mark: So instead, what happened to this trip?

Nate: Everything went crazy. The night before around 11:00 p.m., I received a notification on my phone that my flight was delayed. I wasn’t excited about the delayed flight, but no big deal, I’ll just figure it out. I couldn’t get it worked out on their app so I had to call the airline and wait to talk to a customer service representative. They said my flight was actually re-booked, which made me a little bit more nervous, but my flight had been rescheduled to 8:24 a.m.

Mark: So, you could sleep in.

Nate: That’s what I thought. No big deal. I thought I’d get to Chicago at 9:36 a.m. I’ll leave Chicago and arrive in Tampa by 4:48 p.m. That’s a little later than I wanted to, but I’d still make my meetings. The next day, I was waiting at my terminal. I’m ready to go. I got there when I should. Then, I got a notice again that my flight was delayed. I was then scheduled to leave La Crosse at 11:09. a.m., which puts me in Chicago at 12:30 p.m. This meant I missed any options for a direct flight from Chicago to Tampa for the day.

They then re-booked me to leave Chicago at 3:47 p.m. and fly all the way to Miami, not Tampa. They were hoping I’d be able to catch the Tuesday night flight from Miami to Tampa.

Mark: So, you flew into Miami and everything was fine?

Nate; No, no, no, no. It did not go as planned. I got on the plane in Chicago. I’m flying to Miami, and we’re just about to begin our descent when the pilot gets on the intercom and says there is a storm in Miami. We can’t land. All planes are currently circling the airport. We’re going to wait 30 minutes and then we’ll land in Miami.

So, we’re flying around for a while. Then, he gets back on the intercom and says that we need to divert to Fort Lauderdale because we need to refuel and then fly back to Miami.

Mark: Wait, aren’t those places a 30-minute drive from one another?

Nate: I know it was crazy. Apparently, they didn’t have enough fuel. We ended up landing in Fort Lauderdale, refueled, and then went to Miami. At this point, it was 11 o’clock at night. No other planes were leaving for Tampa that late.  

Mark: At this point, you and I were talking on the telephone. I trying to decide if I let him sleep on the floor. I decided, No, I’m better than that. I was looking for hotels. I found one less than a mile away. I texted you the confirmation number, and I figured you’re in a hotel room so you can get your 8 hours of sleep.

Nate: Not quite 8 hours. I got to the hotel and checked in. It’s probably about midnight at this point. I got about four good hours of sleep before I had to get to the airport again for an early morning flight. I’m trying to catch the earliest flight to Tampa since I’m already late for the conference at this point.

The flight was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to be in Tampa by 10 am. That didn’t happen either. I got there 2 hours early. I’m waiting. I had a little bit of coffee to get me going. I’m watching the screen for when it’s time for my flight to board. It’s passed the time for boarding and nothing is happening.  The gate attendant announces that due to a maintenance issue, the flight is now delayed.  Maintenance issues for planes are always bittersweet because I’d like to leave on time, but I’d also like to land in one piece.

They had no idea when the replacement plane was coming. Initially, they gave us a time of 10:02 a.m. That didn’t work out. They couldn’t find a plane. Then they changed it to 1:00 p.m. They still couldn’t find a plane. Finally, we ended up leaving at 1:52 p.m. from Miami to Tampa. Thankfully, we ended up landing in Tampa at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday. So, I was supposed to get there Tuesday at noon. I got there on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m.

Mark: You’re talking 27-28 hours on something that should have just been like 6 hours. The reason I wanted Nate to tell this story is to think about when you’re planning your own trip. What’s the biggest trip we have in our lifetime? Retirement! You can’t just assume you’re going to get a ticket and fly smoothly from point A to point B without things happening along the way. This is one of those very simplistic stories to describe why we ask people to schedule their Financialoscopy®.

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