Last June 30, 2018, flightradar24 posted a picture showing that they were able to track 214,000+ airplanes the whole day with 19,000+ in a single given time. We decided to download the app and see for ourselves. Today, we tried to monitor flights via the same app and here's what we got. We monitored the air traffic above the Philippines and Asia. Those yellow airplane icons represent actual airplane movements that time the screenshots were taken. Those blue pins are airports.
Just because we do not see a single airplane when we look out the aircraft window, it does not mean that we are alone. Unfortunately, some irate passengers would tell the crew "wag nyo kami bolahin na traffic sa ere" after they are told that the flight delay was caused by air traffic. What they do not know is there are thousands and thousands of airplanes flying at the same time. We just don't see them because if we would, that may mean an accident as each aircraft move anywhere from 350 to 900kph!
When an airplane takes off, the pilots do not just fly in any direction they want, there is a flight plan that they follow to avoid any mid-air colission. They fly in what we call an "invisible highway in the sky". This "highway" also comes in different heights or altitudes. If one veers off-course, either they can be within the way of another aircraft flying at speeds of more than 500kph! An aircraft cannot lower its speeds as it will lose altitude and drop from the sky.
So what may cause these air traffic aside from the fact that there are plenty of aircraft flying above? Most of the time, it is related to airport and runway conditions including present weather in the area, an airplane making an emergency landing, airport closure, or the airport cannot simply handle anymore the volume of aircraft taking off and landing.
Airlines and even the flight crew hates delays but sometimes or most of the time, they have no choice instead of risking getting into bigger trouble that may cause lives.
Looking out your airplane window is never a way to prove that there was actually no air traffic. It's just like concluding that airplanes are slow by only looking at a flying airplane from the ground.
Next time you hear your flight attendant or pilot telling you that the cause of delay is due to air traffic, don't ever think that traffic only exists in EDSA. It exists also in the skies. You may download the flightradar24 app and see this for yourselves.
Not all the time it's the flight crew's or the airline's fault why your flight is delayed. Though they do abhor delays, they sometimes have no choice.