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  • Tim Donohue

Updated: Dear Jack Benefit Concert (PHL)

The latest weather forecast is out and we've returned to glean what it might mean for delays tomorrow and Saturday (tl;dr delays remain likely for concert goers arriving mid-morning on Friday, but delay predictions otherwise improving)! We'll move through this update a bit quicker than our initial outlook - if you haven't checked out the first look, it may provide some helpful context. We'll also reiterate that we're busy building a mobile app and its associated deep learning algorithms to provide delay insights at scale.


The backdrop is unchanged, with low pressure across the upper Midwest sending a strong cold front through the region on Friday. The timing of the front has sped up slightly: this delivers the benefit earlier clearing, though not before widespread downpours during the mid-morning. The chance for thunder has also been knocked down, though not to zero. We still think PHL will open up at a 32 arrival rate (airport capacity explained here) and stay there through the 9 a.m. hour; forecasted ceilings have actually lowered, though a 32 rate is thankfully the floor absent snow. Our modeling for the 39 flights scheduled to arrive in the 8 a.m. hour (and the knock-on effects in the 9 a.m. hour) is largely unchanged, with delays predicted to average 17 minutes. Wondering how air traffic delays are created? We gotchu. Our bet is the FAA manages the demand overage during this window with a ground stop. If that's the case, shorter flights will absorb a disproportionate amount of delay and we wouldn't be surprised if a handful of flights ended up with a delay between 45 and 60 minutes.


With clearing have accelerated, we anticipate the arrival rate will have increased to at least 40 by the noon hour: there's still some scheduled bunching in the back half of the hour, though any delays should be nearly imperceptible. With clearing well underway by 6 p.m., we can at least take the possibility of an evening ground stop off the table. Given the westerly wind, there remains some question as to whether or not ceilings lift enough to allow for a 48 arrival rate. If PHL remains stuck at the 40 rate headed into the evening, we expect some airborne holding to occur around 7 p.m. (though delays are not predicted to exceed 25 minutes).


As for Saturday, another cold front crosses the region during the afternoon, though moisture is comparatively limited. We could foresee a ground stop in the 6 p.m. hour as a reasonable worst case scenario, though hope nobody is cutting it that close to the 7 p.m. concert start. If you are scheduled to arrive Saturday evening, we'd recommend at least exploring rebooking options. If you find yourself in that situation, the good news is airlines are increasingly offering rebooking flexibility. Specifically, change fees have been eliminated for most tickets, though a fare difference may still apply. There's also been improvements to standby and same-day confirmed change policies; we've linked to respective policies for Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United. Otherwise, we think adjusting your delay expectations should suffice (and even then, it's likely only necessary for travelers arriving Friday morning).


Enjoy the show!

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