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It’s a terrible time to fly right now. Over the past few years, air traffic has changed for the worse – and this year has been particularly bad. Last weekend alone, U.S. airlines canceled or delayed tens of thousands of flights, and on June 16, the average delay time jumped over an hour. Of the past seven years, 2022 had the highest percentage of delayed flights (19%) and the highest percentage of canceled flights (4%) – not counting 2020. Dozens of factors contribute to a busy summer for travel. If you are flying, get ready for a nightmare of travel.

Delays upon delays

Recent flight disruptions are mainly caused by a shortage of staff, especially a shortage of pilots. Numerous airlines have had to cancel flights due to a lack of pilots, and the problem is not going away any time soon. Experts predict that airlines will lack 12,000 pilots by next year. To see also : Is it a good time to visit Europe? Heat waves, Attacks, Deletion — But Cost Is a Case, Restrictions. Pilots who stay at work are also worn out. Southwest Airlines has experienced a 300% increase in the number of pilots reporting fatigue – when this happens, they are automatically removed from the flight, often resulting in delays and cancellations.

It’s not just workers on planes. Airlines are also struggling to hire enough maintenance workers, which could cause further delays in routine aircraft maintenance. Airports are also facing staff shortages. London Gatwick Airport announced in mid-June that it would suspend hundreds of flights during the peak of the summer travel season due to staff shortages. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is also limiting its passenger capacity.

Airlines have tried several things to alleviate the shortage of pilots. For example, Delta has abolished the requirement for pilot candidates to have a four-year high school. Republic Airways has asked the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to hire pilots when they reach 750 hours of flight time, instead of the required 1,500 hours, thus shortening their training period. Unfortunately, these solutions will not solve the problem in time to reduce headaches from summer travel.

The labor problem is exacerbated by a pandemic-era airline’s decision to reduce the number of routes they flew. The average number of daily flights is still below what it was in 2019, which means that there are fewer options for passengers – even when the demand for travel returns to pre-pandemic levels. Smaller cities are disproportionately affected by both route disruptions and a lack of pilots. Given the needs of the staff, pilots have more discretion in deciding which routes to fly, and as one pilot recently told me, they hate “pond jumpers” – flights between smaller airports – which means they are more likely to be canceled.

Resolving these staffing problems and reversing back routes that have been interrupted will take time – leaving many summer passengers in a difficult situation.

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Summer woes

In general, summer is the worst time to travel. The reason is obvious: everyone else is traveling too. But more importantly, the load factor peaks during the summer, which means that the percentage of seats sold in each plane increases. As the planes are fuller, the delay or cancellation of one flight affects all other flights, as the capacity of the system is smaller to absorb the disturbance. For example, let’s say in the spring an airline sells about 85% of its seats on each flight. If a flight of 100 people is canceled, 85 people should be scattered on six other flights in order to receive the alienated passengers. But in the summer, when the number of seats sold increases to, say, 95%, a canceled flight on a plane of 100 people would take 19 similarly filled flights to receive those customers.

The problem doesn’t come until people get on a plane. In summer, security lines are longer, so more and more people will be late to the exit gate. Knowing that other flights are full, airlines are more likely to wait for these passengers – not waiting would require airlines to unload their checked baggage, which takes just as long. This may interest you : Five ways to survive air travel this summer. More passengers also means longer boarding times and more hand luggage to be checked at the exit, causing even greater delays. The capacity of most airports is fixed, so as more flights are added, the utilization of gates and runways increases. Sometimes shorter delays can be made up in the air, but when all flights are connected through an intricate network of hubs and arms, too many delays can become a domino effect.

Experts expect a continuation of the shortage of employees at the airport this summer and new strikes of employees who are tired of long working hours, low salaries and angry, sometimes disobedient passengers. In late May, Dutch airline KLM stopped selling tickets for four days after the chaos at its hub at Schiphol Airport, where employees went on strike to protest low wages; it was not a pretty picture for passengers using the airport.

In addition to staff shortages, the climate crisis has caused an increased likelihood of extreme weather events, making flight disruptions even more likely this summer.

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A guessing game

When Delta announced last month that it would cut about 100 flights a day between July 1 and August 7, the airline told employees in an email that these preventive cancellations would be used to “build additional resilience in our system and improve operational reliability for our customers. and employees “and” relieve pressure by proactively reducing schedules. This may interest you : Air travel is getting worse. Here are 6 tips to make it less of a headache.. ” But at the moment, planning summer disturbances is not enough, and Delta probably seems even more susceptible to major disturbances.

It’s easy to see why Delta and other airlines like JetBlue are moving forward with preventative cancellations. There is a lot of speculation in air traffic; it is difficult to make decisions in May about what to do in July. Airlines do not know what the weather will be like, or whether the strikes in Amsterdam will turn into a wave. But canceling flights in advance means airlines expect interruptions, giving passengers a chance to book again and hopefully avoid chaos at the last minute.

If this summer is really bad weather, Delta is ahead of other airlines. Last-minute cancellations are worst when the system is close to capacity because finding a place for stuck passengers is an almost impossible task – especially when hundreds of flights are hit at once. Many customers say the worst part of road chaos is the long wait to talk to a customer service representative; as with pilots, airlines reported having problems recruiting these roles. During the Christmas holidays, Southwest Airlines asked its corporate employees to work at airports to facilitate these needs.

But if the weather is not bad, if strikes at airports are less frequent and if the number of employees calling again to pre-pandemic levels, then airlines that cancel flights in advance will lose customers compared to competing airlines or their flights will have a much higher load factor, which means there is less room for interference and more potential for delay. Therefore, by canceling flights now, Delta may actually create less resilience, not more.

Airlines win and lose customers in times of crisis. In that sense, Delta may be hinting that it thinks it is better for customers to be frustrated with United and American Airlines and return to Delta. But given that the air travel system is full of capacity, very few airlines can do so in the short term to prevent nightmares of travel. The only lever that airlines can pull away from flight cancellations is transparency towards passengers. Notify customers of delays before leaving for the airport. Let them know the reason for the delay and the options they have. Enabling customers to make better decisions would give airlines some goodwill – and ease the pain for customers who can’t afford to change their plans.

As the high load factor gets bigger, we should expect an explosive summer with flights full of angry customers and longer delays at airports. If you plan to travel this summer, I suggest you choose direct flights, arrive earlier at the airport, fly only with hand luggage and pack a lot of patience and reading materials.

Gad Allon is the director of the Jerome Fisher College of Management program & amp; Technology at the University of Pennsylvania.

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How will I know if my flight is Cancelled?

You can check the status of your flight by going to your airline’s website and entering the details of your flights, and in a second you will know if your flight is on time, delayed or canceled.

Has any flight been canceled today? There are no flight cancellations for today.

Will I be notified if my flight is Cancelled?

Usually airlines notify their passengers of flight cancellations. So you don’t have to wonder how to know if my flight has been canceled. They would usually send you an email or text message in case of cancellation.

How much notice do you get for a Cancelled flight?

Flight cancellation You are notified of the cancellation between 2 weeks and 7 days before the scheduled departure time and we offer you a change of route, which allows you to take off no more than 2 hours before the scheduled departure time and arrive at your final destination less than 4 hours after the scheduled time. arrival; or.

What happens when your flight gets Cancelled?

Eligibility for a refund for your flight The U.S. Department of Transportation says you are entitled to a refund for your ticket cancellation or “significant delay” and that you choose not to travel. This is a rule regardless of the reason why the airline cancels or delays the flight.

Can I fly on Southwest right now?

We need to be aware that there are government-ordered travel restrictions that affect how and where you can travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, some restrictions will require potential quarantines, testing on COVID-19 upon arrival, and / or checking the temperature upon landing.

What happens if a sick passenger is on an international or domestic flight during a COVID-19 pandemic? Under current federal regulations, pilots must report all illness and death to the CDC before arriving at a U.S. destination. According to CDC protocols, if a sick passenger has an infectious disease that poses a risk to others on the plane, the CDC works with local and state health departments and international public health agencies to contact exposed passengers and crew. Be sure to give the airline your current contact information when booking a ticket to be notified if you are exposed to a sick passenger on the flight. For more information, see the CDC website Protecting Passenger Health from the Airport to the Community: Researching Infectious Diseases on Flight.

When should I travel during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Do not travel until a full 5 days after your last close contact with a person with COVID-19. It is best to avoid traveling for a full 10 days after the last exposure. If you must travel during the day from 6 to 10 after the last exposure: test yourself at least 5 days after the last close contact.

Can an airline deny boarding a passenger if they don’t have a negative COVID-19 test?

Airlines must confirm a negative test result for all passengers or recovery documentation before boarding. If the passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery, or decides not to take the test, the airline must deny the passenger boarding.

Why do airlines cancel flights in advance?

The bad news is that airlines often cancel flights in anticipation of bad weather. No airline wants to jam passengers, but the general industry standard is that it is better to create inconvenience to passengers at the place of departure than to have a sky full of planes that cannot land.

What happens when an airline cancels a flight in advance? Usually, if your flight is canceled, most airlines will re-book you for the next flight available to your destination at no extra cost.

How far in advance can an airline cancel a flight?

Cancellation or purchase of a ticket within 24 hours of booking. For airline tickets purchased at least seven days before the scheduled flight departure date and time, airlines are required to either: allow consumers to cancel their reservation and receive a full refund without penalty in 24 hours, …

Why are airlines Cancelling so many flights?

“The biggest problem is that they don’t have the capacity. They weren’t able to return full capacity in terms of pilots, TSA checkpoints, airport vendors, baggage handlers, ground staff or flight attendants,” New York Times travel editor Amy Virshup told CBS News.

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