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holiday travel blues

December 24, 2008

Bad weather is never a good thing, but it’s even worse when it coincides with the holidays. Mr. Angst and I are anxiously watching the radar in advance of our drive to the Angst-in-laws’; I have friends currently stuck in a variety of airports, wondering if they’ll be spending Christmas alone instead of with their families.

The best indication of how badly our air system needs a major overhaul is this: in Chicago, 500 flights have been cancelled out of O’Hare, and those flights still running are delayed by hours. But at Midway? No delays, no cancellations. That says its not Chicago’s weather that’s causing the problems; it’s the weather elsewhere. That says the problem isn’t weather at all, but the way flights are routed. Specifically, when the weather in places where flights must go through Chicago is bad, those flights get delayed, then the flights out of Chicago get delayed because there are no airplanes in Chicago, and then flights in other hubs get delayed. It’s a chain reaction. If, instead, one could fly from one coast to the other—or from secondary market directly to secondary market—without having to go through the intermediate step of changing planes in Chicago, things might be different. Hub-and-spoke air travel, in other words, sucks.

To all my friends currently stuck, I’m sending all the good karma I have your way, so that you can spend the holiday with your families. But if you can’t make it home, make the best of it where you are, and get home when you can. Christmas Day may be December 25, but the Christmas season is much longer ((It lasts till Epiphany, actually—twelve whole days!)). And Christmas can be whenever and whereever you are with your family, friends, or loved ones. So have Christmas when you can.

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