Federal Fix Could Help Air Traffic Congestion

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

UNITED STATES  --  While flying in and out of Des Moines may not be too difficult, not all airports are known for short lines and security stops.

The congestion and delays are about to get worse as the spring vacation season picks up. As Phil Lebeau reports, there may be a federal fix to the problem.

While the FAA has been upgrading its systems to improve the flow of flights in the United States, airlines have been padding their schedules so planes have a better chance of taking off and landing on time.

This means the time set aside for flights like those from Washington to New York or Las Vegas to Los Angeles is up more than 10 percent.

"Those longer schedules are due, in part, to congestion in the air and on the tarmac at some of America's busiest airports," said Lebeau.

This is a problem many airlines believe can be fixed by upgrading America's air traffic control system.

"Ultimately, we want the pilot of the airplane, the air traffic controller, the dispatchers of the airline to all have the same information at the same time with which to make the best decisions," said Lorne Cass with American Airlines.

The airline is already trying new approaches to improving the flow of flights at its hubs, but the big improvement for all airlines could come if President Trump can convince Congress to spend billions to fix America's airports, and, by extension, the traffic jams clogging up air space over America's busiest airports.

"I think there is a lot of work underway today and there are things coming out in the next two to three years, there are some technologies that are going to make a huge difference that are planned out for a 10 or so year period," said Cass.

Without the upgrades, travel experts say it is best to avoid the nation's biggest airports, if possible. Instead, try flying into a smaller airport that has a higher percentage of on-time arrivals and departures.