It's official: Air travel is dismally slow

If your flights these days seem to take longer than in the past, you're not just imagining it. USA Today reports that air trips are the slowest in 20 years, due to high traffic both on the tarmac and in the air. Many airports are operating at or above capacity, with little room for future expansion. Newer, more efficient airplanes fly a little slower than older models. And to deal with congestion, bad weather, and other unexpected factors, the airlines are building extra time into schedules. The result? More waiting on the tarmac, and even slower flights.

The stats say it all: The article reports flights from Las Vegas to New York (JFK) took just over six hours last year. In 1988, that route took just four hours and 37 minutes. That same year, a flight from Honolulu to San Diego would span five hours. If you took that same flight today, you'd have an estimated seven-and-a-half hour trip.

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The crunch was felt acutely in the past 10 years, particularly on the tarmac, as approximately 90 percent of airports have seen increased wait times between taxi and take-off. Last year's average was 17 minutes.

And of course, predictions for 2008 are expected to be the same or worse, because there's no shortage in demand for air travel.

Given this news, the delays of the past few weeks, and increased fuel prices, it's enough to make me wonder if this week's Onion article will go from satire to real strategy.

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