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A year of delays: There's something special in the air, and it's three hours late

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Airport departure screen (Photo: Index Open)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on December 10, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, American, Continental, frequent flyer, fuel, JetBlue, Korean Air, legroom, low-cost airline, Midwest Airlines, Molly Feltner, onboard flight entertainment, security, Southwest.

The least surprising result of our survey: Most of you encountered increased airline delays and cancellations this year. Fully half of our respondents thought the frequency of delays and cancellations grew in 2007, with 38 percent feeling the frequency was about the same as last year, and only eight percent thinking there was an improvement.

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), this year is projected to be the worst year for airline delays since the government has been keeping track. Between January and July, there were more than one million flights delayed and 100,000 cancellations, meaning that more than a quarter of all flights did not fly on time or at all.

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While bad weather caused its share of hold ups, problems resulting from scaled-back, overtaxed airline workforces unable to meet their airlines' schedules, congested airspace, and the country's outdated air traffic control system got the headlines. DOT reports show less than one percent of flights from January to October were held up by weather, compared to seven to eight percent each affected by carrier delays, aircraft arriving late, and national aviation system delays. From your comments, it appears these types of delays irked you most; that, and the airlines' poor customer service in the aftermath:

    "Airlines don't seem to care about delays or customer service anymore. Flights are so overbooked that when your flight is canceled, there are very little opportunities to catch another flight."

    "This has been the worst year of air travel I have ever had. Half of my flights have had major delays of three or more hours. One trip I had to spend the night sleeping on a cot at O'Hare."

    "It has been a year of consistently late flights. I have even avoided taking another trip that would have involved making connecting flights because of all the additional hassle. Air travel has become so stressful and inconvenient that it is sometimes more fun to stay home for a vacation."

    "You are unable to depend on the airline to get you to where you need to be at the prescribed time. This means an individual must program additional time to make up for the possible delay of the airline."

    "Awful year for flying! My husband, one-year-old, and I were stuck in Atlanta for 28 hours on one trip due to weather and mechanical failures. [The airline] did the absolute minimum they could. A lot of their gate personnel were mean. It was a terrible experience."

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