What to Expect Travelers During “Airmageddon” on the 4th of July

As the United States braces for what some in the industry are calling “airmageddon,” travelers are bracing for a possible collapse of airlines, airports, and security and customs checkpoints, not to mention hotels. and hotel services.

AAA predicts that about 42 million Americans will take a road trip of 50 miles or more.

But the real problem: 3.5 million people are expected to fly this holiday weekend. Plane tickets cost on average 14% more, and in some markets have quadrupled. And hotel rates have increased by 23% since 2021.

On Saturday, flight cancellations rose to more than 600, while delays topped 4,300, according to FlightAware, an organization that tracks flight data.

And all of this is happening as major airlines and travel players squabble delays and cancellations. Airlines are blame the Federal Aviation Administration for delays, the FAA says airlines have flight schedules they can’t physically support, pilots blame the airlines for increased workloads and flight hours they say could be a safety issue, passenger complaints against airlines are up 300% from 2019, and the US Department of Transportation is considering options emergency regulations.


Flight cancellations and delays cause problems for holiday travel

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Heathrow and Gatwick in London are preemptively canceling flights, and government officials are considering implementing increased pricing for planes that need to operate during peak hours.

Airlines worked on Saturday to deliver luggage to passengers around the world after a technical breakdown left at least 1,500 pieces of luggage stranded at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, the latest of several tangles to hit travelers this summer.

The airport’s baggage sorting system experienced a technical malfunction on Friday that caused 15 flights to depart without baggage, leaving about 1,500 bags on the ground, according to the airport operator. The airport handled about 1,300 flights in total on Friday, the operator said.

Labor activists said many more passengers flew without their bags, apparently because of the ripple effects of the initial outage.

It came as airport workers are on strike at French airports to demand more hiring and higher wages to deal with high global inflation. Due to the strike, aeronautical authorities canceled 17% of flights departing from Paris airports on Friday morning, and an additional 14% were canceled on Saturday.

Passengers of canceled flights were alerted days before their flight. The scene at Charles de Gaulle on Saturday was busy but typical of the first weekend in July, when France’s summer travel season kicks off.

The unions plan to continue the strike on Sunday but no flights have been canceled so far. They threatened to renew the strike next weekend if negotiations with the management of the company failed to find a compromise.

Travelers at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Dublin experienced hours of queues, thousands of flight cancellations and thousands of missing and lost bags.

In the United States, the DOT reports that airlines lost or mishandled 21% more baggage this year than last.

Earlier this week, Delta issued an unprecedented July 4 weekend “airline waiver” to customers, citing “operational challenges.” The airline has admitted it expects difficulty keeping to its schedule – meaning it doesn’t have enough pilots, flight attendants, baggage handlers and other staff to staff all of its scheduled flights, among other challenges – over the next four days, and encouraged travelers to rebook for other flights and other days without fees or penalties. The airline was basically asking its passengers not to fly. No other US airline has so far matched this waiver.

Many US airlines continue to blame staff at air traffic control centers, whose workers are Federal Aviation Administration employees. But the US Department of Transportation says the majority of airline delays have nothing to do with center staffing. Airlines are also parking dozens of 50-seat regional jets because they don’t have the pilots to fly them – and because at current fuel prices, the planes aren’t profitable to operate. Translation: Aftermarket cities in the United States, such as Ithaca, New York, and Toledo, Ohio, will have significantly reduced — or in some cases, no air service by Labor Day.

In the United States, the DOT is considering imposing financial consequences on airlines that publish unrealistic flight schedules – and the rules could require airlines to show they can support flights with the right allocation of staff before being authorized to schedule these flights. They’re also talking about charging airlines more to schedule flights at peak 8 a.m. or 5 p.m. times — known as congestion pricing — as well as considering asking airlines to reschedule 30% of their flights to depart between 8 p.m. and 12 a.m., because night flights experience fewer delays.

But as airlines cancel flights and cut frequencies, Amtrak is a bright spot for travel, adding to its schedules and running trains more frequently as more passengers turn to trains for travel. short and medium-haul. And while AAA is reporting the total number of Americans expected to be driving this weekend, they haven’t estimated how many people will be in each car – and that number has also increased, as the cost of plane tickets has increased. dramatically increased again. There will not only be people on the roads, there will be people in the cars.

A second glimmer of hope: Future airline, hotel and resort bookings after Sept. 15 have fallen off a cliff. One of the reasons is seasonality – the kids are back in school, the parents are back at work. But the high cost of travel for the summer of 2022 could mean that for many Americans, when September rolls around, they’ll be planning their trips for the rest of the year. Those looking for better airfares and more seats available for frequent flyer rewards might find more affordable bookings from September through December 15.

About Sharon Joseph

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