Yesterday, I was in Manhattan for the day for a meeting. Afterwards, I took the NYC subway and New Jersey Transit commuter train back to Liberty Newark airport. My flight left the gate right on schedule, and then we proceeded to spend 70 minutes in line waiting to take off. Our pilot said we were 30th in line. As we accelerated down the runway, I counted 50 aircraft in line behind us, most of them wide-body jets.
This happens to me almost every time I leave Newark at around the end of the business day, so I presume it happens the majority of the time, at least at that hour. And of course, all of them have to leave their engines running, so they can inch forward when required. I have no idea how much fuel an A340 or 777 uses while “idling” but I presume those big, honkin’ Pratt & Whitneys consume more that your average Prius.
It seems to me that arranging things so that 80 planes aren’t all trying to leave on the same runway at the same time wouldn’t be that difficult. Perhaps I should call Al Gore.
BTW, when I image-googled “planes waiting in line” this was the best shot I could get. They’re mostly 727s, so this shot is probably from c. 1980, but it IS Newark — you can tell from the 5 smokestacks in the background.