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Air travel: Why it will get worse
A new Brookings Institution study looks at the cause of flight delays and why they’re going to get worse

“If you think flying is a miserable experience now,” said Aaron Smith in CNNMoney.com, “just wait until 2010.” According to a report from the Brookings Institution (read the report), flight delays are actually down from recent levels, a “silver lining” of the recession-linked drop in air travel. But air travel will pick back up again next year—“the result: more delays.”

Even if arrival times are “above par” now, they’re still “far from stellar,” said Alex Altman in Time. Ten percent of flights are delayed two hours or more, with the average delay at 57 minutes in June. But flying has turned “from a luxury into an egalitarian necessity,” so we have to do something. The Brookings report has some “sensible suggestions,” including using high-speed rail as an alternative to short flights, privatizing airports, and runway congestion pricing.

“The last one probably won’t fly,” said Scott Jagow in Marketplace. The airlines hate the idea of higher rates for prime-time runway slots, “and besides, you know who will end up paying for it.”

American business will pay if we don’t “ease congestion,” said Charisse Jones in USA Today. The worst delays are at some of our most important business centers—New York (the worst), Philadelphia, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco. So while none of us likes sitting idle on the runway, it takes "a particularly heavy toll on business travelers and potentially the economy.”

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