A recent computer failure led to massive delays and disruptions at airports across the East Coast, confirming fears that this summer could prove hellish for travelers. Computer problems at the airlines seem to be growing in frequency, but as the New York Times points out, there are a number of factors contributing to the industry's woes. Simply put, the nation's air infrastructure is under a lot of strain right now. A recent explosion in the use of private and chartered jets is only making matters worse, as smaller planes compete with major carriers for space at airports and use of the air-traffic control system. It would seem, then, that there's a negatively-reinforcing loop here. Problems with commercial travel push people towards private jets, the growth of which creates more headaches for major carriers, and so on. This cycle looks set to move even faster as new innovations come to the private jet industry, making it even more affordable and efficient. In light of this, airline travel probably won't get much better until there's a significant expansion in infrastructure (which could take years), or there's a recession that reduces how much people travel.
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