In 1990, the average flight from NY to L.A. took 5 hours and 52 minutes. Last year, the average was 6 hours and 6 minutes. Why the increase? On the longer routes, says WSJ columnist Scott McCartney, airlines have been slowing down planes to conserve fuel. Also expect minutes to be added in heavily congested locations, such as the NY metropolitan area. But the overall trend seems to be shorter flights, as carriers take a few minutes off the padded time of flight. From the Journal:
American, Alaska, United and Southwest airlines have all reduced scheduled time for trips in at least 16 of the past 24 months, according to the Official Airline Guide data compiled by American. Together, the nine biggest airlines took an average of one minute per flight out of their schedules last year, according to American's schedule analysis. That may not sound like a lot, but minutes add up to days across thousands of flights. At just American, a one-minute change in schedules represents a total of 24.2 flight hours across its fleet each day.
On the busier routes, average travel times in 2011 were shorter compared with 2009, according to the Department of Transportation.