June 27, 2007

Valley air travelers brace for a bumpy ride

Summer travelers, brace yourselves for a long, bumpy ride

If it is interferences of the computer science system, flat oversold or as soon as he clarifies old bad weather, the passengers of the air are facing some of the worse challenges of the years in which he comes to obtain to his destinations the time. The problems could obtain worse in the days than they came.

That is because more than 41 million people it hopes that of all the nation they are in favor in going of Friday until the 8 of July, with almost 10,6 million of which comes from the western states, including Arizona.

Valley residents' tales of woe thus far include everything from lost baggage to canceled flights - and the height of the busy summer travel season isn't even expected to hit until Friday, according to AAA Arizona statistics released Tuesday.

There are many things contributing to the problems.

First, the country's air-traffic system is getting increasingly overloaded as more and more Americans take to the skies. The Federal Aviation Administration estimates that about 760 million people will fly in the U.S. this year, and that number is expected to increase to 1 billion passengers by 2015.

Locally, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport saw a record 41 million people travel through its gates last year. That is expected to jump to as many as 50 million people by 2015.

Exacerbating the problem is that there are simply fewer seats to go around these days. Some carriers have grounded airplanes in their fleet, or held off on the delivery of new aircraft. Others are using their larger jets for overseas routes and opting to fly smaller planes on domestic routes.

Carriers say they realize that with so many people in the skies, there is little margin for error. But they also say they need to book planes to capacity and, in some cases, overbook flights, in order to make money.

They say their bottom line is dependent on selling seats because ticket prices remain relatively inexpensive while fuel prices are skyrocketing.

But that's of little comfort to travelers like Scottsdale resident Molly Busch. She bought a ticket online to Chicago more than a month ago, only to arrive at Sky Harbor on Thursday to discover the United Airlines flight she was scheduled to be on was short about 28 seats.

She said she was told that the wrong plane apparently was sent to Phoenix.

When the gate agent started asking people who would be willing to give up a seat, Busch realized she had no seat to give up because the airline would not accept the seat assignment she selected when buying the ticket online.

Read the news release of this article's source at The Arizona Republic by Christia Gibbons

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