"The 301 statute mile flight might take about an hour, including a margin for time spent routing through airways,"
He's unlikely to have been flying IFR.
"loitering in holding patterns, and so forth."
See above (a holding pattern is an IFR procedure), but in any case holding patterns are a thing of the past in Europe (London excepted), as traffic is regulated according to forecast capacity by the CFMU, an operational unit located in Brussels. If it is known or expected (e.g., based on weather forecasts) that your destination (or more rarely, en-route) will be over capacity then you are made to wait on the ground at your departure airport, which saves fuel and costs and is also safer.
A controller that I knew used to roll off a military cargo plane on his motorcycle every Monday morning. Another one (military controller) co-owned a light aircraft which he would use to commute into his base (allegedly his CO put a stop to that).