Government Sequestration of Airline Traffic Controllers is to Blame.
Airline delays from automatic federal budget cuts and resulting air traffic controller furloughs have already begun in some major airports across the nation. The furloughs, which started on Sunday, are expected to continue impacting airline passengers due to reduced staffing at air traffic control towers and the need for controllers to space planes farther apart. "One of the major issues with any delay in air traffic, at even a single airport, is the ripple effect that it has on so many other flights down the line," said Ragina C. Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "Planes which cannot land or cannot get to the gate to load and unload passengers cause pile ups at airports which can take hours to clear."
As expected, the major airports and hubs such as Atlanta, Chicago O'Hare, Newark, JFK, LaGuardia, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, San Diego, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Chicago Midway and San Francisco are anticipated to be the most impacted. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), New York, Chicago and San Francisco could see delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours. Safety, however, not on-time performance must be the top priority for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the DOT, who will only permit the amount of air traffic that current staffing levels can safely handle. Airline passengers are encouraged to appreciate that safety must take priority over on time-performance.
With the busy summer travel season kicking off in just weeks, AAA Mid-Atlantic urges passengers to be prepared as delays could worsen once families head out for their summer vacations.
AAA Mid-Atlantic offers the following common sense advice for flyers:
Travelers can check delays at airports around the nation using the FAA’s airport delay map.
Allow extra time to arrive at your destination or meet connecting flights whenever possible. If you are cruising, for example, you may even want to consider flying in the night before to ensure that the ship doesn’t sail without you.
For must-attend events, such as weddings, don’t expect to arrive exactly when you must be there, and build in extra time, again arriving the day before if possible.
Try to avoid booking the last flight of the day, as delays can increase exponentially as the day goes on. The first flight out in the morning may be your best bet.
Prior to departing to the airport be sure to check the status of your flight through your airline’s website or mobile apps and stay informed of conditions at your local airport through the airport’s website.
Pack your favorite snacks in your carry-on and purchase bottled water near the gate to carry on as well. (Only liquids purchased after passing through TSA’s security check point may be carried on board the plane with some exceptions for baby formula and medical solutions.)
Pack your own personal "entertainment" selection. If stranded on the runway you can immerse yourself in a great book, catch up on work, write a note to a friend, or plan your next adventure. The possibilities are endless, but don’t just take a book for you, the kids will need one too. Card games, travel checkers, and magazines can keep kids entertained for hours.
Dress comfortably and in layers. It may be hot or cold on board the plane, so layers will ensure that you can easily adjust to the temperature on the plane. Sandals are great in the heat of summer but result in cold feet on the plane. Toss a pair of socks in your carry-on that you can put on if needed.
Attitude is everything. Try to embrace this time to relax and or spend time with your family or away from your office. If you are physically comfortable and mentally prepared, your travels will be much less stressful.