Wait, What Time is It?

Wait, What Time is It?

Daylight savings time confuses a lot of people, but no one more than frequent corporate travelers?

So are we all agreed on what time it is now? Let’s hope so, now that we’ve had a month to get used to it, after all those cute media reminders to “spring forward” one hour with the arrival of Daylight Saving Time.

But hang on a second. Two days before the clocks changed on Sunday, March 10, I got a text from an airline executive on the East Coast with whom I’d set up an interview. He knows I live in Tucson, which is in the Mountain time zone.

“Confirming, I’ll call you Monday 3/11 at 11.30 a.m. -- 9.30 a.m. your time,” the text read. Actually, that’s 8.30 a.m. my time, because Arizona does not do Daylight Saving Time. Each year, from March through November, Arizona is in effect on West Coast time, three hours behind the East – even though it officially remains steadfastly on Mountain Standard Time, which is not to be confused with the Mountain Daylight Time that prevails in, say, Colorado or the entire rest of the mountain West.

Arizona is the only state in the continental U.S. that does not adhere to Daylight Saving Time, except for the major portion of the 27,000-square-mile Navajo Nation in the northeast corner of the state, which does do DST, except for the 2,500-square-mile enclave of the Hopi Nation enclave within the Navajo reservation, which does not.

Clear now? If you’re on a business trip almost anywhere in the U.S., telling the time isn’t much of an issue these days, but if you’re going abroad, keep in mind that only less than 40 percent of the world now uses DST. If you want to keep track, here’s a handy link from the always useful Norway-based Timeanddate.com listing the 140 countries that once used DST but have since dropped it because … well, they had lots of reasons.

Luckily for us all, the airlines pay no attention to any of this, except for the need to remind crews what time to report to the airport on the second Sunday in March. The aviation industry operates its schedules on Zulu time — UTC, coordinated universal time, also called Greenwich Mean Time, the time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, designated the location of the longitudinal prime meridian back in the mid-19th century when railroad schedulers needed to at least agree on what time the trains departed and arrived.

American railroads caught onto this only later in the century as increasing long-distance travel by rail banged up against the confounding fact that there were more than 300 different times in place across the country, most of them depending on the sun’s position in the local sky. In 1883, this untimely mess was addressed with the adoption of four major time zones in the U.S. At last, the trains could run on time.

Then along came Daylight Saving Time, which was concocted in Germany during World War I, ostensibly as a way to conserve coal, but which was not fully standardized throughout most of the U.S. until adoption of the Uniform Time Act in 1966.  The reasons offered for this, trust me, are enough to induce a headache, and opponents of DST are equally zealous on reasons to ditch it DST entirely.

Meanwhile, there is a bill pending in the Massachusetts legislature to petition the federal government to designate Massachusetts as being in Atlantic Standard Time all year round, but only after Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island agree. That would put much of New England in a different time zone from the rest of the East. There’s also a proposal in Florida to put the entire state on DST year-round, including the Florida panhandle, nearly all of which is in  the Central time zone.

Living in Arizona, I have no dog in this crazy show, but I’d say that for the rest of the country, it is really time to sort this all out sensibly so we can all agree, if on nothing else, about what time it is.


MEMO PAD – American Airlines says it’s going to have all of its domestic narrow-body fleet equipped with satellite Wi-Fi by next month. “This is a game changer. If you haven't experienced it, I encourage you to,” the American CEO Doug Parker told analysts during a J.P. Morgan earnings call on March 5. “Everyone in the airplane can be streaming at the same time.” … .Gas prices averaged $2.48 a gallon for regular in the U.S. on March 10, down from $2.52 on that date last year, according to the AAA. The highest prices were in Hawaii ($3.33) and California ($3.31). Some other averages: New York ($2.59), Massachusetts ($2.45), Texas ($2.22). Mississippi ($2.22). …

The Transportation Department fined American Airlines $1 million and Delta Air Lines $750,000 in late February for violating federal rules prohibiting long tarmac delays. The fines covered a period from December 2015 to February 2018, and involved 13 American flights and 11 Delta flights. The DOT rules provide fines for domestic flights that remain on the tarmac for over three hours, and international flights for over four hours, without giving passengers an opportunity to leave the plane. …

U.S. citizens will need a visa to travel to Europe starting in 2021, under rules just announced by ETIAS, the European Travel Information and Authorization System. The visa will be required for travel to 26 countries in the European Union’s Schengen Area, which includes France, Italy, Spain and Greece. (Britain’s status in the European Union remains unclear pending resolution of its Brexit initiative to leave the union). The new requirement will cover the U.S. and 59 other countries whose citizens do not now need a business visa for short-time travel to Europe. Enrollment will be online. Here the ETIAS announcement.

About the Author: Joe Sharkey
Joe Sharkey’s work appears in major national and international publications. For 19 years, until 2015, he was a columnist for the New York Times — for 16 years doing the weekly “On the Road” column on business travel, and before that the weekly “Jersey” column for three years. He is currently a columnist with Business Jet Traveler magazine, and an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Arizona. A Vietnam veteran, he has written five books, four non-fiction and a novel. One of his nonfiction books, “Above Suspicion,” has been adapted as a major motion picture starring Emilia Clarke, Jack Huston, Thora Birch and Johnny Knoxville (and directed by Phillip Noyce), to be released soon. In January 2017, a new, revised edition of his book “Above Suspicion” was published in print and as an e-book by Open Road Media. Penguin Random House also released an audio book version in January. Open Road also published revised editions in e-book format of his true-crime books “Death Sentence” and “Deadly Greed.” In January 2018, the revised edition of “Death Sentence” was published in print by Open Road Media. In his newspaper career before the New York Times, he was an assistant national editor at the Wall Street Journal; the executive city editor of the Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union; and a reporter and columnist with the Philadelphia Inquirer. On Sept. 29, 2006, while on assignment, he was one of seven people on a business jet who survived a mid-air collision with a 737 at 37,000 feet over the Amazon in Brazil. All 154 on the commercial airliner died. His reports on the crash appeared on the front page of the New York Times and later in the Sunday Times of London Magazine. He and his wife Nancy (who is a professor of journalism at the University of Arizona) live in Tucson — where he is also working on a new novel about the exploits of an international travel writer who hates to travel. .