We've seen it before in the past 25 years: full flights, inevitable delays, inexperienced travelers. This cocktail can result in higher levels of stress, strain, and air rage incidents.

Still, this summer might look different- and not in a good way.

As I pointed out in SOFT LANDING, after decades of inefficiency, the airlines have finally figured out how to sell most- if not all- the seats on a flight. It took a while to get here. Yet, now most flights have load factors in excess of 90%. With record numbers of fliers expected this summer, many planes will be filled-up. Space- any space- will be at a premium.

According to a report from travel rewards site Milecards.com, which analyzed government airport on-time arrival data for the last 10 summers, among the 50 top airports in the U.S., 38% have more delays in the summer than winter. This may seem strange. However, the air transport system is much better positioned to handle snowstorms than thunderstorms.

Ever-higher fees for checked baggage have certainly cranked-up the stress level onboard. People are taking seemingly everything onto a plane to save money. A significant portion of folks this summer will not have much of a clue how to best manage the experience. This will be real obvious during boarding...

To best get through your next flight, be sure to pack your patience, bite your tongue, and keep things in perspective.

Although modern air travel sucks, you are not going to Omaha Beach in a Higgins Boat.