Airlines tweak flight routes to battle fuel prices

You may not have thought there was anywhere else for the airlines to cut back. But, no. To cut costs, they have actually figured out a way to alter time and space.

Turns out that flight paths as we know them are less-than-efficient, and there are a few methods to wring more economy from the way planes fly on established routes. The airlines are already at it.

Method One: Flights get a little shorter. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated that in Europe, flights are about 30 miles longer than they have to be, mostly because jetliners have to avoid military airspace. Get the guys in green to ease up on peacetime airspace restrictions, and allow commercial pilots to make tighter turns (so hold on to those non-existent peanuts, folks). European flights could shorten by about four minutes if that happens. For the past year, American airlines have been permitted to use military airspace during peak travel periods like Memorial Day and Thanksgiving, but mostly to ease delays. It's not a leap to extend those permissions to help ailing airlines save a little more cash.