Why One Airline Pushes Back Planes at a 45 Degree Angle

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Picture this, you’ve just boarded your flight, ready to go, boarding door has closed and your aircraft is ready for pushback. The tug hooks up to the plane and pushes the aircraft back at a 90 degree angle. However, Delta Air Lines has changed how they push back their airplanes, and are now pushing them back at a 45 degree angle for several reasons.

This new process wasn’t developed by a big-end consulting firm, in fact a group of customer service agents who work for Delta came up with this new time-saving process that has been quite a hit since they’ve starting using it which takes less time to push, allows the aircraft to start their engines earlier, and doesn’t block airplanes in the neighboring gates from also pushing in or pulling up to their gate.

Per INC,

Delta Air Lines has explained a simple trick that it uses to turn planes around faster, which means passengers get where they’re going on time, more often.

It saves a minute or two every time a jet rolls away from the gate. Multiply that by 1,000 Delta flights a day at an airport like Atlanta, and you start saving lots and lots of time.

It was a relatively easy change to make to the airline departure process, Delta’s Michael R. Thomas told me, but it has some really far-reaching effects.

  • First, it takes less time to push a plane straight back at a 45-degree angle than it does to back out straight, stop, turn, and then push it again.
  • Second, the 45-degree angle means planes can start their engines earlier, instead of waiting until they’re through the 90-degree turn.
  • Third, when planes turn at 90 degrees, they block airplanes at the one or two gates behind them. Pushing back at 45 degrees means they don’t block each other, so more tugs can push more planes at the same time.

Delta explains that not every airport or gate allows for this type of push back, however if you’re departing from Atlanta you’ll likely see this implemented there when being pushed back. As to other airlines following suit, it appears Delta is currently the only airline to do this, however it’s likely we’ll see other airlines follow suit if this is as

Have you flown on a recent Delta Air Lines? Next time, be sure to pay attention how your aircraft is pushed back at a 45 degree angle, instead of 90 degrees.
Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed.

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