Cheap airline tickets could mean big spring break travel headache

BySharita J. Wilson

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ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WFRV) – For the first time in three years, people are traveling again for spring break. It’s also causing travel headaches for people who have booked on low-cost carriers like Frontier, Allegiant, and Sun Country.

“For the last two weeks it’s been really busy and we’ll see that continue,” said Marty Piette, Airport Director for Austin Straubel International Airport.

In fact, Piette says the airport is on track to break records from 2019. But nationwide, there is a growing problem.

“There are staffing issues, there are aircraft supply issues, weather certainly plays havoc with the schedule when that happens,” added Piette.

“What’s happening with the airlines is no different than what’s happening everywhere else in America,” said Appleton International Airport marketing manager Patrick Tracey.

Allegiant and Sun Country have been plagued by delays, or even outright canceled flights this spring break leaving passengers scrambling.

In a statement, Allegiant said:

A labor shortage is currently affecting the entire commercial aviation industry and Allegiant is no exception. As a result, we have had to cancel some flights or reduce the frequency of some routes in our network.

Passengers who are impacted will be re-accommodated to other flights or receive a refund.

We are very sorry to those customers who have been inconvenienced; we hate to cancel flights and hope that this labor shortage is a temporary issue.

We are offering extra incentives to attract and retain employees, including offering higher wages, bonuses, work schedule flexibility and more. 

Allegiant Air spokeswoman

Sun Country has much of the same message:

Sun Country Airlines is experiencing unprecedented demand for vacation and leisure travel. After living with the pandemic for two years, our guests are eager to travel again for winter and spring break.

We have experienced some weather delays and cancellations, and — because flights are full — have been challenged to rebook passengers. We know that is a frustrating experience for our guests.

Like other airlines and industries, we are working hard to hire team members to increase our capacity to meet the demand after reducing our schedules during the pandemic.

Sun Country Airlines

Travel experts suggest one of the best things you can do to protect yourself is to get travel insurance. The days of airlines compensating you for weather delays are few and far between. In fact, in a lot of cases, airlines are not required to rebook you onto another airline or provide vouchers for food and meals.

“It really hurts us to see delays and cancellations at the (Appleton) airport, however, we understand that airlines are just like every business in America and we’re all dealing with the same labor shortage,” said Tracey.

Local 5 reached out to Frontier Airlines for comment twice but never heard back.