Air travel congestion to get worse: U.S. Travel Association

Sky traffic's $35.7 billion nightmare
Sky traffic's $35.7 billion nightmare

As millions of Americans take to the skies for the Thanksgiving holiday, they will inevitably hit crowds and flight delays. However, according to a new study, travelers can expect more days of the year to look like the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, notorious for being the busiest travel day of the year.

The U.S. Travel Association study found that 27 of the 30 major U.S. airports will experience Thanksgiving-like congestion two days a week within the next decade.

"If you want to see what the infrastructure problem looks like in this country, look no further than the Wednesday before Thanksgiving," Erik Hansen, the U.S. Travel Association's senior director of domestic policy, said in an interview with CNBC's "Street Signs" on Tuesday.

"Our airports are jam-packed. There are flight delays and cancellations. You're going to be waiting in more lines. There is going to be traffic on the way to the airport."

JetBlue passengers at Logan International Airport, Boston.
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Within the next two decades, 20 of the nation's 30 airports will feel like the day before Thanksgiving on the average day, the study noted.

However, with air travel forecast to grow from 826 million to almost 950 million enplanements per year globally over the next 10 years, there is a big growth potential for the United States in the form of travel spending and new jobs.

However, right now, Americans are avoiding taking trips because of flying hassles, Hansen said. In fact, the association found that poor infrastructure caused U.S. consumers to skip 38 million trips in 2013, costing the economy $35.7 billion.

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Not only do radar systems need to be upgraded to allow more planes in the sky, terminals, runways and gateways need to be added to handle the crowds, Hansen said.

"If we want to see some more competitive prices, we're also going to have to build infrastructure so we can have a more competitive airline industry. All of these things are going to cost money," he noted.

"We do need to start making these investments if we want to improve the travel process."

—CNBC's Jackie O'Sullivan contributed to this report.