Low on Fuel?

I did not know that airlines are flying planes without full fuel tanks. To save weight, they calculate the least amount of fuel needed to get a plane to its destination.
With fuel prices now their biggest cost, airlines are aggressively enforcing new policies designed to reduce consumption.

In March, for example, an airline pilot told NASA he landed his regional jet with less fuel than required by FAA regulations.

"Looking back," he said, "I would have liked more gas yesterday." He also complained that his airline was "ranking" captains according to who landed with the least amount.

A month earlier, a Boeing 747 captain reported running low on fuel after meeting strong headwinds crossing the Atlantic en route to John F. Kennedy International Airport. He said he wanted to stop to add fuel but continued on to Kennedy after consulting his airline's operations manager, who told him there was adequate fuel aboard the jet.

When the plane arrived at Kennedy, the captain said it had so little fuel that had there been any delay in landing, "I would have had to declare a fuel emergency" - a term that tells air traffic controllers a plane needs immediate priority to land.

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/aug/09/bz-pilots-say-airlines-are-cutting-fuel-levels-dan/ -via Waiter Rant, where the author had a brush with a similar occurrence.

(image credit: Drewski2112)

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Also keep in mind that the heavier a plane is, the more fuel it needs. But fuel also has weight. So for any extra fuel they carry, they also need to add in extra just to carry the weight of the excess. It's extremely wasteful to fill up the plane.
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A friend of mine who does load and fuel control at an airport has told me before that this is more common than most think. Pilots tell controls that they do not have enough fuel so that they have priority to land so that they don't have to circle and wait in queue to land....especially a couple of international airliners which I won't name.
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What I mean to say is said reserve is getting dipped into more. Not that theres any need for hysterics, though.

A 777 isn’t your family minivan; it’s not ’safer’ or ‘better’ with a full fuel tank than an empty one;

Assuming the empty part of the gas tank isnt filled with oxygen now anyhow... Not that that risk is all that high relative to driving to the airport.
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Tweeker: The "reserve" is enough fuel to get to the furthest place you could possibly need to divert to, plus 45 minutes. It's more than sufficient. Plus, any pilot that wants can ask for more fuel, they have the final say.
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