Q. The Transportation Department recently released their on-time arrival data, and airlines have been boasting in the last several months about being on time more often and not losing as much baggage. But aren’t they just benefiting from the lack of major snowstorms and thunderstorms? Aren’t they also padding their schedules?

A. Either way, it's good news. Part of it is simply fewer flights. The skies are less crowded. Even Delta is getting rid of most of its 50-passenger regional jets, which occupy just as much take off and landing capacity as larger planes, but are less efficient at moving passengers due to their smaller size. And yes, every flight I've been on lately has landed way ahead of schedule, which suggests some padding. Not sure about the lack of thunderstorms though considering the violent weather in the DC area recently. 

As for the drop in lost bags, it's most likely because passengers are carrying their bags onboard, avoiding checked bag fees. As airlines install larger overhead bins to accommodate carry-ons, we'll see fewer checked bags than ever--and fewer lost bags. The downside of this trend, of course, is that all that fumbling with carry-ons can really slow down the boarding process and eat away at those on-time departures. We shall see!
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