John Hobden was a dorm-mate of mine in college. He was a bit of a mathematical genius. He was also a bit of a savant, I suppose. The man couldn’t tell time to save his life, but he could tell you in less than 5 seconds that July 12, 1883 was a Thursday. We didn’t have Google back then, either! One time, all of us in the dorm set our clocks and watches ahead three hours (John’s too) without telling him about it. The poor man woke up at 4:00am (thinking it was 7:00am), showered, got dressed for class, and walked outside (in the dark) and all the way to the Sid Richardson Science lab only to discover a locked door and a rather befuddled security guard. He got back to the dorm to find 300 of us laughing our socks off and pointing out of our open windows…
I’m sure John got the last laugh. He probably works for Major League Baseball as a human database of statistics, “Hey John, who has the highest batting average in the National League among active First Basemen, in the rain, with runners in scoring position and two outs? In August?” He would reply immediately, “Albert Pujols. Duh.” John was no dummy.
Did you know that the airlines keep almost as many statistics as Major Leage Baseball does? Most of them are embarrassing so very few of them are published, but you can get access to some good ones if you want them!
One statistic I have in mind is particularly helpful. Airlines track a stat called the Delay Statistic for each flight. It is a one-digit number, boiled down to how often that particular flight is delayed for more than fifteen minutes on a scale from 1 to 10. A score of 1 on the scale indicates that the flight is ALWAYS more than 15 minutes late, and a score of 10 indicates that the flight is NEVER more than 15 minutes late.
How is this helpful? If time is of the essence to you (presuming you can actually tell time, unlike our hero, John Hobden), you may need to book a different flight if the flight you’ve chosen has a delay statistic of “3” for example. Airlines are required by law to give you this number, when you ask for it. Some say they post those numbers on their websites, but I’ve never seen it. Perhaps they post it under a column heading that could be misconstrued, like “Time Delay Minutes” or something. People see “Time Delay Minutes” and they see it has a value of “1” and they think, “Goodie, we’ll only be a minute late! This will be awesome!” Only later do they discover that they were sadly mistaken.
EXTRA: If you have questions for Ken regarding business travel, hotels, airplanes, etc, please call 1-877-49-EXPERT. Your questions will be recorded and Ken will answer the best ones in his Ask the Expert podcast show.