Old 25th Aug 2018, 19:04
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Mark in CA
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: US/EU
Posts: 682
Why is it so hard to predict arrival times?

I've just had to meet people at the Budapest airport two days in a row. On arrived on a Lufthansa flight from Munich, the other a WizzAir flight from Catania, Italy. It's about a 30-minute drive to the airport, and in preparation for meeting these people I watched the event log on Flight Stats to see what the estimated time of arrival was. In both cases, I noticed wildly fluctuating estimates.

The flight from Munich, which usually takes about an hour, this time ahd to divert around convective weather, resulting in a much longer flight. Still, as I watched the flight cross the border from Croatia into Hungary, the estimated arrival time jumped an additional 20 minutes. Looking at the distance involved and the aircraft's speed, it was easy to see the fight would reach Budapest in only 15 minutes, not the 40 minutes now estimates, and so I ignored it and left for the airport. Sure enough, the flight arrived when I thought it would, and when I checked again, the event log had been updated back to the original estimate.

Today, the flight from Italy was delayed, but once it got off the ground, the estimated arrival time seemed appropriate. But a couple hours later, the arrival time got bumped an additional 30 minutes. I left for the airport expecting the later arrival time, but as it turned out, the flight arrived about 20 minutes earlier than I expected. AGain, after checking the event log again, I noticed the change to the earlier time had been entered shortly after I left for the airport.

In both instances, the additional flight times were posted relatively close to the destination airport and then shortly afterward updated again closer to the previous estimated arrival times.

I don't recall this volatility in arrival times before. Has something changed recently that causes this, or did I just have bad luck?
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