This week, new runways debuted in Chicago, DC, and Seattle. This is good news for all air travelers, since all it takes is a little backup at one airport (especially busy hubs Chicago and DC) to create a domino effect across the country, delaying flights and stranding travelers in airports overnight. Last year, I got caught up in such a logjam flying home from Nashville. It was a lovely day in Nashville, but a massive storm was rolling through the country north of us. We were supposed to fly through DC en route to Burlington, but they had already closed Dulles. Rather than leave us stranded in Nashville, they decided to squeak us into Chicago before they closed that airport….where we would also be stranded. Luckily, my traveling companion and I were able to book a room at the Chicago Airport Marriott and got booked on a Chicago to Burlington flight the following day, before we even left Nashville. Hundreds of other people weren’t so lucky: They were jammed around the gates, lying on the floor or the occasional cot, or standing in line trying to get standby status on a flight sometime in the next two days. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
There still seem to be some logistics to work out with these runways, but anything that allows more flights to take off and land in a timely fashion has got to make things better. Between the extra runways, and airlines cutting back on their number of flights, hopefully there will be fewer incidents in the future such as passengers being stranded on the tarmac for eleven hours. Happy flying!