It's not just your self-dramatizing imagination; it really is a headache trying to fly away from New York City. Not only are our airports absolutely no fun (survey says) but there's seemingly no exit from them. A new study from the Brookings Institute confirms that New York is still the worst for on-time air travel, with 30 percent of arrivals and 22 percent of departures clocking in late. And those eggheads predict it's probably only going to get worse! Why?
The economy is "recovering." No really, it is! More people are flying, and air carriers have added more flights, while paring down their schedules. Delays of at least two hours are twice as common now as in 1990, and researchers blame the tardiness on an increase in the number of short flights between big cities and a poorly-equipped air traffic control system. Adie Tomer, co-author of the report, explains that the big airlines' reliance on "hub-and-spoke networks" is overcrowding hub airports, while short flights between big cities are overtaxing the whole system.
Tomer tells the Associated Press, "We're not trying to point fingers at the airlines. There are a lot of people flying and we simply don't have the capacity to handle them." So, the finger's being pointed at all the people buying airplane tickets? You know, if fewer people bought tickets, that would fix everything! Actually, the report suggests that technology should be developed to allow planes to fly closer together, which doesn't really sound like such a good idea.
Other proposed solutions include privatizing airports and letting airports charge airlines more for takeoff and landing slots during peak hours. There was an attempt to try auctioning takeoff and landing slots around New York during the Bush administration, but
airlines sued to spike that idea. You can download the entire report here, and if you're headed to the airport, you'll have plenty of time to read it.