Nightmare Looms In The Air

On the verge of airline gridlock, Correspondent Steve Kroft reports on the nightmare of airline travel on '60 Minutes' Sunday

Was your flight cancelled, delayed or simply unpleasant? On the busiest travel day of the year, Correspondent Steve Kroft looks at air travel and the nightmare it has become in a 60 Minutes report to be broadcast Sunday, Nov. 26, 7 p.m. ET/PT, on the CBS Television Network.

How bad has air travel become?

So, bad, Kroft found out, that one out of every four flights is delayed, cancelled or diverted to another airport.

It's so bad that some airports keep a huge supply of cots for the inevitable cancellations that strand hundreds and sometimes thousands of passengers. Chicago's O'Hare keeps over 2,100 cots.

It's so bad that three years ago, the National Civil Aviation Review Commission predicted that the U.S. aviation system will be in gridlock "soon after the turn of the century."

It's so bad that no airline executive would agree to be interviewed about its troubles.

And it's so bad, says Professor Darryl Jenkins, who heads the Aviation Institute at George Washington University, that it's going to get worse before it gets better.

"It will get worse up to the point where you can no longer tolerate the pain," he tells Kroft, "and at that point, you will rise up against your local congressional leaders and force them to do something."