I got some really good information this morning from my plane reservationist regarding the air travel situation.
She said that over 900 flights were cancelled yesterday and she'd estimate things are running at about 60% today.
Her experience over the last few days has been that, with the threat of an economy collapse looming overhead, many businesses have been cancelling or postponing all travel that isn't absolutely necessary for the next three weeks in an effort to save both money and manpower. Many travelers commented that "conference calls can take the place of face to face meetings for a while."
One of the biggest problems has been with assembling flight crews - many of the pilots and crews require a third-party commuter flight just to reach their positions. (Chicago-based pilots and flight crews that actually lived in Phoenix, for example). The airline industry has been losing 4 billion dollars a day being closed all week. Those companies that can afford to are trying to keep going. Midway handed out pink slips and Continential is laying off over 1,000 people. So it's not that the security measures themselves are to costly, but the revenue lost from being shut down and for the decrease in traffic over the next few weeks. With many of the commuter flights not running to full capacity, or going out of business, it's hard to get everyone there on time.
Prices haven't gone up, and due to the lack of demand, availability isn't too bad. Most airlines are refunding tickets for September and allowing travel after that to be postponed till a later date.
Travelers will need to get to the airport at least 2 hours ahead of time, for early morning flights, and three hours ahead of time for late morning, afternoon and evening flights.