Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles This video was made possible by Clear. The first 200 people to sign up at clearme.com/wendover get three free months of speeding through airport security with Clear. Airlines are notoriously difficult businesses to run. Each and every flight operated is a multi-thousand dollar gamble on whether or not passengers will buy tickets. Aside from cost, the strongest factor for customers on which flight they will take is often the overall travel time so airlines put enormous effort into properly assembling their puzzle of flights so they can offer the shortest connection time possible. With so many destinations all across the world, it's just natural that most routes require connections so airlines need to attract connecting passengers in order to stay in business. Now, most flight connections for traditional airlines happen out of their hub airports. American Airlines, for example, has 10 across the United States and every single one of their flights either begins or ends at these airports, but not all hubs are created equal. Charlotte Douglas, Reagan National, and Laguardia are largely built for north-south traffic and terminating traffic. Miami is for connecting North American travelers to flights to the Caribbean and South America. Philadelphia is a bit of a hybrid hub connecting both north-south traffic and North American traffic onto flights to Europe. JFK is the major hub for connecting North American traffic to European flights. And the Los Angeles hub's main purpose is to connect North American traffic to Asia and Oceania bound flights, but then there are these three—Chicago O'Hare, Dallas Fort Worth, and Phoenix Sky Harbor airports. These three airports are the truly important connection airports since they lie between the coasts and their schedules reflect this. The east-west routes are the most competitive in the United States so American has to offer short connections in order to dominate the market. So what American Airlines has done is that they've banked their hubs. What this means is that, for the most part, all their flights arrive and depart at roughly the same time. For example, on any given Wednesday in the fall the Philadelphia flight will arrive at 11:14 am, then the Atlanta flight at 11:17, the DC one at 11:29, and the Nashville flight at 11:45. Then, at 12:40 the flight to Denver leaves, at 12:45 the one to Las Vegas, at 1:00 the one to San Francisco, and at 1:10 the flight to Los Angeles. This way, nobody has to wait longer than two hours to connect. Almost every flight American operates in and out of DFW falls into one of their 10 daily banks. This is how the airline gets those connecting passengers—by offering shorter connection times. Nearby Dallas Love Field is Southwest Airlines' main hub but it operates in an entirely different way. It just has planes arriving and leaving at a consistent average of about 8-12 flights per hour all day long and there's a good reason for this—Southwest is a budget airline. Banked hubs are significantly more expensive to run because they require more resources. The airline needs to have enough equipment, people, and gates to turn around all their planes at the same time. If the planes came in at a smooth pace all the people and equipment could be used continuously but at a banked hub, the airline still needs to pay for their people and equipment during the down-time between the banks. If a plane leaves Philadelphia bound for DC at 9:30 with the 9-10 am bank it will arrive around 10 am but it will have to wait to leave until about 11:15 to time its arrival with the 11:45-12:45 bank. Planes cost money whether they're in the air or sitting on the ground so having planes wait around to time with banks costs money too. This is why a budget airline will never schedule their planes to sit on the ground during the day for more than an hour. Once a plane lands, it immediately loads up and takes off again as soon as possible. For this reason, the planes of a budget airline like Spirit Airlines are in the air for an average of 11 hours per day while American airlines only uses their planes for an average of 8.5 hours per day. Banked hubs can also make delays more probable. When there are so many planes going out at once an airport might just not be able to cope with the surge in activity. If a thunderstorm hits the airport, for example, a whole bank of flights might be delayed or cancelled which would create a knock-on effect all across the country. These banking systems are essentially higher risk, higher reward in terms of delays, but some airlines have taken the banked hub concept to an extreme. Etihad Airways's hub in Abu Dhabi essentially operates with just two big banks a day. Almost all their fights from the west arrive between 7:00 and 8:30 pm then eastbound flights depart between 9:30 and 10:30 pm. Flights coming in from the east land between about 11:30 pm and 12:30 am and then the final bank of westbound flights departs between 2:00 and 3:30 am. With this system, almost every flight from Europe or the US can connect to a flight to Asia or Australia in no more than three hours. The whole operation also takes about eight and a half hours—perfectly timed for one work shift. But of course, however, this leads to a lot of planes sitting around. Their flight to Hong Kong, for example, departs at 9:50 pm Abu Dhabi time and arrives at 10:05 am Hong Kong time. The plane then has to sit around until 6:55 pm in order to time it's arrival with the rest of the westbound bank. That's almost nine hours of waiting, but in order to schedule flights correctly, its fairly typical for planes to sit around. Flights from North to South America are notoriously tricky to schedule. Sao Paolo, Brazil is only one hour ahead of New York during daylight saving time so southbound flights tend to leave in the evening and arrive 10 hours later in the morning. But the tricky part is when the flight should return. If the flight left at 7 pm and arrived the following morning at 6 am it could turn around and fly back at 9 am and arrive at 6 pm but the airline doesn't want to do that. The problem is that airlines rely heavily on connecting traffic to fill their flights and by the time arriving travelers got off the plane and make it through customs it would be 7:30 pm at best by which time the majority of flights have left for the night. Airlines therefore almost universally decide to leave their planes on the ground in South America all day to fly back overnight so travelers can connect onwards to their final destination on morning flights. This is likely part of the reason why flights from North to South America are so expensive. But some of the airlines have found a way to take advantage of the time on the ground. Labor is significantly cheaper in South America so airlines have started to perform maintenance work on planes while they're waiting around for the evening flight back. American Airlines, for example, recently started building an $100 million hanger in Sao Paolo to support their maintenance operations there. Qantas made a similar move to take advantage of time on the ground by opening up an a380 sized maintenance hanger in Los Angeles for their planes that sometimes sit there for up to 14 hours, but that's not the only trick Qantas has up its sleeves. Australia is just so isolated that no plane can currently fly non-stop from the country to the US east coast. The US west coast, however, is close enough that a plane can make it in a 12-14 hour flight so Qantas has non-stop flights from Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane to Los Angeles. The trick is that they are all scheduled to arrive between about 6:00 and 6:30 am then, at 8:20 AM one of the planes continues on to New York with the passengers booked through. This is known as a scissor hub. WestJet airlines operates an even more advanced one in St John's Canada. They have flights arriving from Orlando, Toronto, and Ottawa all around 9:30-10:00 pm then just past 11:00 pm their flights to Dublin and London leave. This way they can fly six routes with just three planes and, even better for them, since it's only a 4.5 hour flight from St John's to the British Isles they can fly small, inexpensive single aisle planes transatlantic. All of these scheduling patterns and tricks serve to help an airline achieve it's ultimate goal—to maximize revenue. In this industry, time truly is money since planes cost money and people pay more to fly faster so few aspects of the business are as important as properly scheduling flights. If you like spending less time at airports one way is to fly with shorter connections, but perhaps the easiest way is to use Clear. I tried them out for myself on a recent trip and the footage speaks for itself. CLEAR uses biometrics to replace the TSA id check so you always go straight to to either the PreCheck or regular screening without waiting in line. As you can see here, it took me exactly one minute and seven seconds to go from walking in the door of Laguardia to getting into security. The X-ray was completely backed up with a few people in wheelchairs when I went through but that's actually a good thing because what I am showing you here is the absolute worst case scenario—the slowest security with clear will be. I put my camera in my bag during the screening so the TSA agents wouldn't yell at me but the timer is still running. So, even with all that back-up at the x-ray I went from walking through the door to the gate in seven minutes. The good news is that the first 200 people to sign up over at clearme.com/wendover get to speed through airports security at Clear's 24 US airports for free for three months. That is not a publicly available trial so it's worth signing up while it's available. Once again, that's clearme.com/wendover for three free months of faster airport security. Aside from that, please be sure to check out my podcast Showmakers and subscribe to this channel to get all my future videos right when they come out. Thanks again for watching and I'll see you in two weeks for another Wendover Productions video.