garden-1100582_1280A couple of weeks ago many flights leaving Boston were delayed up to an hour because the hoses supplying planes with potable water had frozen and planes had to be supplied by a limited number of water tank trucks. The cold had been forecast and below freezing temperatures are nothing new in Boston, so this was a clear process breakdown.

It’s unclear if this issue only impacted flights from one terminal, so assuming that the was the case and that twenty planes may have been delayed a reasonable guess is that 2,500 hours were directly wasted along with the additional energy expenditures as the planes idled. Twenty one-hour-late flights likely had a multiplier effect as connecting flights were delayed and crews for these twenty planes each played catch-up throughout the day. My back-of-the-envelope estimate calculates that this issue may have resulted in over $1 million in additional costs.

The point here is not to belittle the people leading the airport in Boston, but to call attention to how seemingly minor mistakes, such as not securing water hoses in a protected location the night before, can have major consequences. Solving even small problems are big opportunities.