My family has decided to mostly skip traveling over the holidays and instead get together in January for Christmas and birthdays. Considering the state of air travel, it looks like a wise move.

"We are experiencing some real operational problems in the industry," said Darryl Jenkins, an airline consultant. "The truth is you have a lot of problems going on."

The industry seems to be inching back to the severe delays experienced before the 2001 terror attacks, which caused air traffic to plummet, the experts said.

They warned travelers to expect delays during the upcoming holiday season.

"Much of the volume for November is really packed into three or four days," said Dean Headley, a marketing professor at Wichita State University and co-author of the annual "Airline Quality Rating" report. "Every seat is going to be full with somebody that has to be somewhere. . . . If there is the slightest glitch anywhere in the system, it can ripple through. There isn't much room for error."

I've had good results flying on Southwest and JetBlue. The article indicates that it's the "major" airlines that have the most problems.

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