Thousands of travelers across the world are frustrated with airline inconveniences dampening highly anticipated vacation plans. CBS Travel News reported, that airlines canceled over 5,300 flights and delayed another 32,000 this past Juneteeth weekend. It was a similar case for memorial day weekend. The devasting news here is that airline analysts are not seeing an end to this mayhem in the near future. Here’s what you can expect from delays and cancellations during travel this summer.
A Los Angeles flight agent for American Airlines, Savanah Hammond, explains that “many furloughed staff (pilots, flight crew, and agents) are not returning to work.” Legally airlines have a minimum of flight crew members on a flight in order for it to be cleared for takeoff.
In the instances that people call out with COVID symptoms or are not able to get their shift covered the day prior, “the airline begins to contact on-call crew, but they are given a three-hour window from that initial call to report to work.” This means that if within those three hours a flight is scheduled and the flight is still short for a crew member, the flight will be delayed. “Additionally, we can not have pilots fly more than three cross-country trips. Then on top of that plane are faulty. It’s all a mess.” Hammond states.
Airlines Fail To Find Effective Solutions
Airlines first noticed what they were up against during the 2021 holiday season. After realizing the lack of infrastructure necessary to start operating at full capacity, airlines opted to decrease their number of daily flights in preparation for the summer.
In April, JetBlue announced it would be decreasing its summer flight schedule by 8% to 10% and Alaska Airlines reduced its schedule by about 2% through June. Following suit at the end of May, Delta announced that it would be getting rid of almost 100 flights a day from its schedule this summer.
Less active flights have not done much to alleviate the reality for travelers, in fact, it has only complicated the traveling experience. Fewer flights mixed with travelers’ excitement to begin to start enjoying their summers abroad has caused airfares to skyrocket amidst yet another economic recession. To her amazement, Hammond shares, “people still buying flight tickets at the inflation rates, and because of internal cancellation statistics that predict the cancelation rates for specific flights, airlines are actually overselling tickets.”
Hammond shares that agents are seeing more checked passengers than there are seats available for any given flight. This does not include the people on standby for previously oversold flights, passengers who missed previous connecting flights due to delays, etc. As a result of the backlog, airlines have started issuing flight vouchers to customers who will voluntarily give up their seats.
Before and After Booking Travel
Airline analysts aren’t expecting delays and cancellations to stop or improve. Now more than ever, it is crucial to purchase travel insurance. There are too many factors, from last-minute changes and airline staff shortages to flight cancellations and airplane malfunctions. Travel insurance is critical, especially if your arrival time to a destination is not flexible. This can save you thousands of dollars.This was the case with a woman who lost thousands of dollars after missing her cruise due to flight cancelation. Additionally, if you have an upcoming trip, remember to constantly check the status of your flight prior to leaving the house. It’s better to be stuck at home, than in the airport with other stressed travelers.