Traveling- Layovers, Delays, and Fuel Cost

I went on a business trip recently to the annual NPTC (National Private Trucking Council) conference in Cincinnati. It’s a great event for private fleets and surrounding industries. Every year it continues to grow and be very successful. This was my 2nd year attending, and I don’t see why I won’t be there the next few years. It’s a great opportunity to see people face to face, listen to great speakers, and learn the newest trends in the trucking industry.

For those of you who don’t know, Sokolis group a fuel management company is located in Warrington, Pennsylvania. It’s about 45 minutes with no traffic (rare in the congested northeast) north of Philadelphia. About another 45 minutes north from Warrington is the Lehigh Valley airport. Obviously we have our choice of flying out of either being in-between both. Money is the deciding factor and in this case it was $500 cheaper to fly out of Lehigh valley. Little did we know that we’d be visiting both in the same day! Because of delays we were bussed all the way from Lehigh Valley to Philadelphia. Otherwise we would’ve missed our connecting flight in Charlotte.

How is it $500 cheaper to fly south to Charlotte and then back to Cincinnati? Would it make sense for you to say to your customers if we ship directly to you in Sacramento its $5,000, but if we have to ship to Los Angeles and then Sacramento its only $3000? I did some research to understand this and the simplest answer I found was something we all learned in economics; supply vs. demand. I think here lays the big difference in comparison to the trucking industry. In trucking industry there is the opportunity for dedicated routes, especially those for-hire carriers. In the airline industry they don’t have the benefit of that. Of course there are popular destinations that get more consistent travelers, but apparently Philadelphia to Cincinnati isn’t a big seller. It’s easier to send a smaller plane to Charlotte and then let the people not going to Charlotte connect to their flights there. Smaller, fuller planes are more efficient than larger half-filled planes with no stops.

Of course we survived the trip and issues of traveling that always seem to occur. While we’re attending the NPTC over the next few years, I can guarantee if the flight is $500 cheaper we’ll be going that route. Maybe next year I’ll have another story. The fueling cost to fly these planes must be incredible. Hopefully, with crude oil prices going down jet fuel prices will go down as well giving the airlines some fuel savings they can pass on to customers.

Unger, Carl. “Why Are Nonstops More Expensive than Connecting Flights?” December 15, 2009. Retrieved May 5, 2012 from