The Equal-Opportunity Flight Delayer

By Chris Promecene

On a recent Friday morning my wife and I, along with our editor Jim and his wife, headed to Houston Intercontinental Airport to hop on a United flight to Newark. Our mutual friend had invited us to a dinner party that evening for his 50th birthday and we decided to make a weekend in Manhattan out of it. Since the big boys were doing the flying neither Jim nor I bothered to check ForeFlight before departing. Little did we know our country's president also planned to fly into the New York terminal area that day. Thanks to something pilots know as a TFR, our 10:30AM departure ended up being a 2 PM departure, putting our arrival at the dinner party on the far side of fashionably late.

The FAA's notice to pilots to stay clear.

The FAA's notice to pilots to stay clear.

A TFR (temporary flight restriction) is a geographically limited restriction to flight for a specific period of time. TFR's are often associated with major sporting events, national disasters or, as was this case, the movement by air of the president or other VIPs.

In short, the good news about TFR's is is that they are usually short-lived. The bad news is they often occur with little notice, effect major metropolitan areas and nobody (almost nobody) escapes them. So, the reality is, under the same circumstances, had we been flying private, the air traffic restriction and concomitant terminal area back up would have still grounded and delayed us. Turns out the bar at terminal C has a great cocktail with rum and pineapple juice called the delayed departure--cheers.