Thu. Mar 23rd, 2023
Old Man Winter returns.  Be very scared.
Enlarge / Old Man Winter returns. Be very scared.

Farmers Almanac

United Airlines may rank last among traditional airlines in customer satisfaction surveys, but the company wants you to know that it is looking for ways to improve passenger service. That includes offering customers better options during the stressful time of inclement weather.

During an interview with David Brancaccio from the public radio program mmarketplaceUnited Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz gave an example of how the company uses it Farmers Almanac to make better plans during weather disruptions this winter:

Q. We understand that the weather is out of your control, but when flights are canceled or delayed, passengers can see if an airline is responding in an orderly or haphazard manner. Are you making progress there?

A. Oh, absolutely. I think the hardest thing the industry has relied on historically is the fact that we can’t control the weather, we can’t control air traffic control and use that as an excuse at the end of the day. Things happen. We know they happen. We don’t know exactly when they’re going to happen. But we should definitely be prepared. A very quick example: Farmers Almanac calls for a very nasty winter. Particularly in Chicago, one of our main hubs. So right now our operations team is hard at work to accommodate the passengers. Not our plane, not the operations behind it, but the people who fly us. That is the important difference at United.

It should go without saying, but Farmers Almanac has no credibility in the meteorological science community. The seasonal forecasts are made by “Caleb Weatherbee”, who is described on the publication’s website as the official forecaster of the Farmers’ Almanac. The site explains, “His name is actually a pseudonym passed down through generations of Almanac predictors and used to hide the true identities of the men and women behind our predictions.”

So told the publication’s editor-in-chief, Sandi Duncan Mental Floss that his predictions are the product of “top-secret mathematical formulas that account for things like sunspot activity, tidal action, and planetary positioning.” Duncan said the formula is so secret even she doesn’t know. But for something to have scientific credibility, it must be repeatable and published by its researchers. A secret formula produced under a pseudonym meets neither criteria – rather, it is pseudoscience.

Ars contacted United Airlines to determine the extent to which its seasonal weather planning is really based on the Farmers Almanac. A spokesperson, Charles Hobart, responded: “The safety of our customers is our top priority when making operational decisions. We listen to weather experts assist us in forecasting the upcoming season, and our network ops staff undergo extensive preparatory training each year for severe weather.”

By akfire1

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