Accountability and the Air Traffic Control Debacle (That I Experienced Firsthand)

Cancelled flights are seen on the billboard at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington D.C., United States on January 11, 2023. (Photo by Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.)

Dear Capitolisters,

Last Wednesday, I needed to go to New York for the day to film an interview for a forthcoming video on the Jones Act (stay tuned). The plan was something I’d done with little trouble, exhaustion notwithstanding, over the years: Arrive early morning, do the hit, and return home late that night. Last Wednesday, however, was not your typical travel day—thanks to an early-morning meltdown of the U.S. air traffic control (ATC) system.

Unfortunately for me and many other U.S. travelers, airlines didn’t simply proceed as planned once the ATC system was rebooted. In my case, in fact, we boarded, taxied out to the runway, and—literally seconds before taking off—stopped everything and just sat on the tarmac for an hour. Then, we went back to the gate and waited there. Then we boarded again, waited on the tarmac again, and returned to the gate again. Then I changed flights, finally arriving in Manhattan seven hours later than planned. Then my return flight was delayed another two hours because of continued backlogs. All in all, I spent more than nine hours in airports and less than four hours in New York. And nobody knew anything the entire time. Fun stuff.

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