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Why flight delays are the worst in 12 years

I’ve never linked to a radio story before, but that’s where my head is right now because I’m working on’s second podcast (you can still listen to the first podcast about shoulder season travel, too).

Yesterday on the radio I happened to hear an interesting piece about summer travel delays. NPR’s All Things Considered had an interview with David Field, U.S. editor of Airline Business magazine that was packed with insight, so I thought I’d go all Web 2.0 on you and pass it along.

Among other things, Field says the recent low on-time flight statistics indicate that, “travelers have to brace themselves for a bad summer.”

He offers an explanation of why air travel is going to be extra frustrating this summer (it involves a lag in air traffic control technology and smaller planes, among other factors). And, he looks at exactly how and why airlines are to blame for the delays, pointing to the practices of over-scheduling arrivals and padding flight times as two of the culprits.

I’ve been hearing a lot about travel this summer, but this is the first explanation that has really gotten at why it’s going to be bad. Knowing what to expect will help me take the frustrations of delays this summer more in stride (at least for the first few hours), and will motivate me to buy an extra-thick book to accompany me to the airport.

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