Get Ready for Another Summer of Travel Mayhem

High demand and staffing shortages are expected. Anyone else feeling deja vu?

A plane flying over palm trees
Will summer '23 be a repeat of summer '22?

From cancellations and delays, to hours-long check-in lines and mountains of lost baggage stacked around airports near and far, summer 2022 travel was nothing if not a total and utter shitshow. As flying rebounded from the pandemic, the busy season put a strain on the airline industry’s still-recovering infrastructure and the chaos that ensued was enough to give even the most seasoned of jet-setters apprehension.

Now here’s the not-so-great news: things aren’t looking all that promising for this summer, either. According to a report from The Points Guy, high demand coupled with staffing shortages mean that we could be looking at much of the same mayhem as last year.

“An additional 75,000 leisure and hospitality jobs were added just in March, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the industry will likely need to remain on a hiring binge if it’s to keep up with demand throughout what’s expected to be a busy summer for travel,” Becky Blaine and David Slotnick wrote.

The air travel industry, in particular, has been especially affected by the shortages. Earlier this month, it was revealed that two in 10 air traffic controller positions are currently unfilled — a continuation of the decade-long drop in air traffic controller staffing levels. The FAA has said that such staffing shortfalls could potentially increase delays by 45% to areas like New York in the coming months.

Airports and Airlines Are Already Taking Steps to Avoid Summer Travel Woes
The chaos that ensued in 2022 has stakeholders planning ahead

In fact, American Airlines has already announced its intent to slash service from two major New York City airports in the coming months, while Delta and United have requested permission from the FAA to cut back their scheduled flights to and from the area by as much as 10%, and JetBlue, which is headquartered in New York, is expected to do the same.

But air traffic controllers are just the tip of the iceberg — flight attendants, pilots, ground crew and airport food service workers are also in short supply. “The federal government can help solve staffing needs by increasing the cap on H-2B temporary worker visas and permanently exempting returning workers from the cap,” U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Geoff Freeman said in a statement.

Fortunately there are a few things you can do to help things along: temper your expectations, arrive early, invest in TSA PreCheck or Clear (or both), carry on, Apple AirTag your checked bag if you can’t, and try to be on the first scheduled flight of the day. And, of course, if (read: when) all of that fails — remain calm. Not only will throwing a tantrum in an airport, or on an aircraft, not get you the desired result, it will also more than likely slow you and everyone else down…or preclude you from getting where you’re trying to go at all. Plus, your episode will likely be plastered all over the internet in a day’s time, which is the quickest way to hamper your summer plans. Lookin’ at you “So is the baby!” guy.


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