What is the “Flightmare” for Memorial Day and Beyond?

Published: 05-30-2022
Will a Flightmare afflict summer travel for aviation?

Photo by Dewang Gupta on Unsplash

Photo by Dewang Gupta on Unsplash

Memorial Day falls on March 30th, 2022, and the holiday has traditionally been regarded as the beginning of the summer season. And that means the beginning of the summer travel season.

This Memorial Day, there are ominous signs that airlines are not ready for a surge of travelers. Some industry watchers have declared an incoming “flightmare,” reminiscent of the delays and cancellations that hit carriers hard at the beginning of the year.

What Would a Flightmare Look Like for Memorial Day?

If projections for a “flightmare” are correct, we will see a huge increase of airline passengers without enough pilots and staff to meet that demand. This will result in delays and cancellations.

It will also result in overworked airline workers who scramble to cover the extra travelers. This can occur at any number of touchpoints in the passenger’s journey, including the check-in counters, TSA security, and assistance at the terminals.

Why Aren’t Airlines Ready?

Labor unions, such as the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) have been critical of the airlines, who have furloughed or forced pilots into early retirement even after receiving bailouts from the government.

Now, as COVID restrictions are pulled back and more Americans want to travel, the airlines find themselves understaffed.

Ironically, the only thing that may prevent a “flightmare” would be a spike in a COVID variant or a similar scare (monkeypox?) that would cause Americans to stay home this summer.

Choice Quotes on the “Flightmare”

  • “While it is great news that travel has fully opened up and families can finally have proper vacations, the combination of increased demand and staff shortages have the potential to cause significant delays and an overall sub-par travel experience” - Rose Ackerman, Executive Editor at Family Destinations Guide.

  • “What we’re seeing is a drumbeat of delays and cancellations. It’s already busy out there and it’s expected to get busier in the summer.” Clint Henderson, managing editor of The Points Guy, an airline, aviation, and travel site

  • “[A]fter securing federal aid on a scale no other industry received, some airlines’ failure to plan for recovery threatens to cost our industry the comeback.” - Joe Depete, ALPA president

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