MIAMI – The holiday travel season has arrived, but with mass cancellations and delays travelers saw at the end of October and into early November, many wonder if the airline industry is ready.
Experts say, after a 2020 filled with restrictions, many people are ready to hit the road in 2021.
“We are almost at full recovery for domestic travel in the United States which is a remarkable thing to say,” said Clint Henderson, Sr. News Editor of “The Points Guy.”
In fact, Miami International Airport says it’s expecting record numbers of passengers for Thanksgiving travel and is already seeing more travelers than pre-COVID.
Fort Lauderdale International Airport is reporting similar figures, forecasting more than 600,000 travelers. That number is up significantly from 2020 and closer to where the figures were in 2019.
But airline industry expert, Clint Henderson says while it’s great for the business, we could hit some major snags.
“With the levels of demand and not having the number of staff needed, if there is anything that goes wrong it causes a massive domino effect and pretty soon you’ve got rolling delays and cancelations,” said Henderson.
That’s what happened recently, when weather and staffing issues caused mass cancelations across the country, specifically with Spirit Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.
Earlier this month, American’s Chief Operating Officer David Seymour sent out a letter to employees talking about hiring more people and payment incentives for those working extra shifts. But the union representing American’s pilots rejected the incentives and says there are bigger problems.
“This has got to stop. We’re a premier world carrier but we’re operating like a startup airline when challenged by the weather,” said Capt. Dennis Tajer, Allied Pilots Association.
Experts say travelers should plan for possible delays or cancelations. They recommend booking with a day or so of flexibility on either end of the trip, just in case. They also suggest checking for other airlines that travel to the same destination, to switch over to a different carrier if needed.