Ground delay programs typically involve the delaying of aircraft that are departing from origin airports within some set distance of a capacity constrained destination airport. Long haul flights are not delayed in this way. A trade-off exists when fixing the distance parameter: increasing the ‘scope’ distributes delay among more aircraft and may reduce airborne holding delay but could also result in unnecessary delay in the (frequently observed) case of early program cancellation. In order to overcome part of this drawback, a fuel based cruise speed reduction strategy aimed at realizing airborne delay, was suggested by the authors in previous publications. By flying slower, at a specific speed, aircraft that are airborne can recover part of their initially assigned delay without incurring extra fuel consumption if the ground delay program is canceled before planned. In this paper, the effect of the scope of the program is assessed when applying this strategy. A case study is presented by analyzing all the ground delay programs that took place at San Francisco, Newark Liberty and Chicago O’Hare International airports during one year. Results show that by the introduction of this technique it is possible to define larger scopes, partially reducing the amount of unrecovered delay.