And after 12 months, with 40 members from the DOT inspector general's office working on the case, the diligent watchdogs have their report: Some things, like late-baggage delivery and tending to passengers' essential needs during long on-runway delays, are getting better. But that which irks flyers most the delays themselves, and the way they're reported to the stranded are still a big problem.
Your tax dollars at work, folks.
"Since air travelers in 2000 stood a greater than one-in-four chance of their flight being delayed, canceled or diverted, we believe the airlines should go further," the report said. That doesn't mean actually preventing delays longer-term improvements like better air-traffic control, more realistic flight slates and more runways won't be in place for a few more summers, the report noted but simply passing along the news to the customers still on the ground.
For instance: In one-fifth of 550 delayed flights observed by the inspectors, the flight information display system showed that a flight was on time when, in fact, the flight had been delayed for more than 20 minutes, the report said.
As Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) put it Monday, "What we have here is a failure to communicate, communicate honestly about scheduling. A failure to communicate honestly about delays and cancellations; a failure to communicate honestly about bumping passengers from flights."
But no shortage of government studies that reveal only what is already patently obvious.