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Airline delays growing concern for Americans

Tracie Potts
NBC News

Stuck seven hours on a plane with nothing to do?

Why not record the fiasco. . . Then post it on You Tube?

"We just pretty much had to sit there," said passenger Robert McKee.

The government reports that flight delays are getting worse.

The average wait is now almost an hour.

In the first half of this year, a 25% of all flights were late.

The airlines say it's not all their fault. Planes are packed, and the air traffic control system is outdated.

"We'd rather have them in their hotel, office or home - rather than stuck at the airport," says Gary Edwards of Delta Airlines.

Delays may be even worse than they appear.

M.I.T. researchers found the government reports how late the plane is, but not how late you are.

So, your plane may be two hours late, but if it causes you to miss a connection and arrive the next day, it's only counted as two hours late.

Flights that are canceled aren't counted at all.

"Instead of focusing on the aircraft or of the crews, let's instead come up with a recovery plan that focuses on the passengers," said Cynthia Barnhart, M.I.T.

The number of complaints from passengers who also can't find their bags is up as well.

A bill to upgrade the air traffic control system has stalled here in congress.

Lawmakers are also considering a bill of rights that would allow passengers to deplane after several hours of waiting on the tarmac. 

Tracie Potts, NBC News.

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