Monday, December 29, 2008

The Perks of Privelege

My first resolution for 2009: DCA airport or bust. Perhaps once Dulles finishes all of the construction, it might be a nice airport, but I've been burned too much in the past by delays, lost bags, and those darn people movers.

So what makes DCA so great? Privelege. Since D.C. air is a no-fly zone, planes must fly up and down the Potomac River. Wealthy individuals live along the Potomac in the condos at the Watergate, the townhouses of Georgetown, the apartments of Arlington, and the houses of Alexandria. These wealthy individuals years ago lobbied for a plane curfew and they got it. Flights cannot arrive or depart after 10pm EST - so as not to disturb the privileged people's slumber.

The second reason DCA excels is the dearth of lines. My theory on this is because so many congressmen fly in and out using DCA, the DCA administration doesn't want to displease the congressmen. See, despite the fact that the congresspeople can skip security lines, their constituents can't and those constituents fly on the same plane as their elected officials. So I think they overcompensate on security guards and staff so that everyone stays happy. And I certainly do!


gleff said...

There's actually no 'curfew' for DCA, rather from 10pm - 7am there are noise restrictions.

The restrictions for departures are that sound cannot exceed 72dBA on takeoff and for arrivals sound cannot exceed 85dBA on approach (except that aircraft scheduled to arrive before 10pm are permitted to land even if they exceed the noise cap if they have received an approach clearance before 10:30pm.

Air Traffic Control will grant clearance to any aircraft at any time regardless of compliance with this rule. However, noise violations carry a fine up to $5k per incident.

Several aircraft types fall below the noise limits and thus do take off and/or land during the protected 10pm - 7am period, eg Airbus A319/320, Boing 757, Embraer E170.

Just a couple out of several examples:

Delta's last Atlanta arrival of the day is scheduled to land at DCA at 11:12pm (it's an MD-90 aircraft).

US Airways' last Charlotte flight arrives at DCA at 11:41pm daily.

Whitney Lynne said...

Thanks for the clarification. Once I had a slight flight delay at DCA and they commented that we barely took off before the night-time curfew so I must have been on one of the noisy aircrafts!