We’ve all been there before: arriving an hour early for a morning flight, checking in expecting to board within a few minutes, staring at the announcement board that showed no sign of progress, and being informed that your flight was delayed – or worse, cancelled altogether. Recently, the issue of aerial tardiness is more prevalent than ever in the US and European countries, with the number of daily flight disruptions hitting 500 in Italy.
What is causing the airline disruptions this summer?
The main cause for this phenomenon is a noticeable staff shortage in the industry. In order to cut costs during the early stages of the pandemic, airline and airport companies have severely lessened the number of workers hired, some going as far as to fire 10,000 employees. On top of that, the travel demand all around the world is surging with family reunions and summer vacations; US airports just screened over 2.5 million passengers on July 1st , a record high since the start of the pandemic.
Not only are airline companies struggling to please passengers and COVID policies, their staff are also unsatisfied amidst the epidemic of rampant global inflation. On July 17th, pilots and ATC workers in Italy went on a four-hour strike with the demand for better working conditions and higher pay; this event alone led to the cancellation of more than 500 flights and is only one of the many strikes happening at the airports of Spain, Portugal, the UK, France, Germany, and other European countries.
What are the solutions airline companies came up with?
Luckily, companies are coming together to mitigate the blow delays have on their
customers. EasyJet, for example, offers an early luggage drop-off for free in Berlin, which significantly speeds up the check-in process. 5 If certain flights are overbooked and delayed, airlines such as Delta are offering up to $10,000 to passengers willing to give up their seats. Some, like Lufthansa, prioritize vacation and long-distance routes that bear no transportation alternatives over short-haul flights. Governments are also participating in the process, some bringing in foreign workers or even the army to help with airport staff shortages; others are engaging directly with domestic audiences by setting summer schedules for airline companies or subsidizing programs to communicate with passengers or recruit staff. With this in place, many sources predict a fast regression of delay issues and the airline industry to return to profit as early as in 2023.
What You Can Do
As a traveler, you can also minimize the effect current disruptions have independently:
- Experts suggest you book tickets that fly in the morning on weekdays, since the first few flights of the day usually take off on time.
- If possible, book flights with a traditional travel agency: in that case, if your flight is delayed, you would have human support and instantaneous communication mechanisms.
- Avoid certain airlines and airports that have been the most effected by delays. Currently, Allegiant and JetBlue are the two airlines experiencing the most delays 10 in the US, while Canada’s Pearson International and Trudeau airports have more than 50% of their flights arriving late.
- Get to the city of your airport a day before your flight, and arrive at the airport at least three hours early.
- Most airlines have strict requirements for liquids for electronics inside hand luggage, so it’s best to check these before packing.
- Download apps that track delays and help with the rebooking process: a few options include FlightAware, ADSB Flight Tracker, and Flight Board.
- If delays do happen, make sure to check the terms and conditions of your ticket to make sure you’re getting the full compensation; taking trains or other transportation methods when possible can also lessen the delays along the way.
- The J+F app provides you with vital information surrounding your destination’s culture and bleisure options as well as wellness-related exercises that can help you pass time during delays but also get you better equipped once you arrive at your destination.
It’s important to note that airline disruptions can be immensely taxing on the travelers’ mental wellbeing; being forced to sleep at airports, switch flights on the spot, or apologize for not being able to make a conference is stressful and especially overwhelming when you’re working on the go.
Jack and Ferdi is dedicated in advocating for awareness on the importance
of wellbeing on business and work-related trips, which is even more essential when faced with uncertain circumstances. While there is no clear end in sight to precisely how the airline industry will recover from delay issues, the prioritization of your mental health even in the midst of chaos can ensure the best possible experience.