‘Flightmare’ looms for summer, travel expert warns

BySharita J. Wilson

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Summer is just around the corner, and travelers who have been patiently awaiting safe travel since the start of the pandemic are ready to buy flights and head out on vacations. Though COVID infection rates have slowed, vaccines are readily available, and many people feel safe traveling again, the pandemic is still having an impact on air traffic.

“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,” said Rose Ackerman, the executive editor at Family Destinations Guide.

An increase in demand for air travel combined with staffing shortages could create a perfect storm for a “flightmare” including flight delays or even cancellations.

Air travel tips

Family Destinations Guide shared some tips to ease travel concerns amid a potential “flightmare”:

  • Choose flights that depart early in the day. If your flight is canceled last minute, having an earlier flight time increases your chances of being rebooked and arriving at your destination the same day.
  • Plan ahead for delays. Delays are likely at every step from check in to security. You will thank yourself for leaving extra time for long lines.
  • Familiarize yourself with your travel insurance policies. If you don’t typically purchase travel insurance, it may benefit you to consider it when traveling in a post-pandemic world.
  • Remember to be patient with airport and airline staffers. Traveling can be a stressful experience for anyone, but being kind towards airline staffers will make the experience easier for everyone.

According to the Transportation Safety Authority (TSA), air passenger travel is expected to be more concentrated over peak periods, with volumes that could match — or even exceed — those in previous years for the first time since the pandemic began and travel restrictions were implemented.

Beyond staffing shortages and potential delays, there’s another hurdle for would-be summer travelers: cost. Inflation is at a 40-year high, and it’s impacting the travel sector. Domestic airfare prices are up 40% since the beginning of the year, according to airfare comparison site Hopper.

Gas prices have also spiked 48% since March. That obviously makes road trips more expensive, but it also makes flying more expensive. Airlines pass on those prices to the consumer.