WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WTNH) — The combination of the holiday weekend, spring break, and issues with airlines is creating some travel chaos. After a number of flight cancelations and delays on Thursday, travelers at Bradley International Airport hope it will be smooth sailing heading into the weekend.
JetBlue and other airlines are struggling to get their planes in the air, citing fatigue among pilots and crew members with crew shortages now a serious concern.
“I’m going to Disney with my family, and it feels really good because I haven’t been on an airline in a really long time.” Acacio Agostino of Chicopee, Massachusettes, told News 8 Friday.
Crew members are still calling out sick due to COVID-19. The rise in cases this month led President Joe Biden to extend the federal mask mandate for public transportation through May 3.
John Holstein worked two phones while standing in line at JetBlue Thursday, trying to find another flight to Florida for his family.
“We’re on hold at the moment so we’re hoping. It might be out of Providence, might be somewhere else, but we’ll see, see if we can get there,” Holstein said. “The earliest they could get us on from here was the 20th.”
He was not alone. Hundreds of travelers were stranded at the airport Thursday night, with crew shortages at the heart of the problem. Not enough pilots, not enough ground crew, and not enough people to fix the planes.
Most flights are already booked. Some people were considering going to another state just to continue on and get to their vacation on time.
“We’ve got a vacation, so what are we going to do? It’s like I was just looking online and I couldn’t find anything until Saturday and the flight is triple the price,” said Lisa Micali of New Haven.
Dr. Michael Teiger, president of the Brainard Airport Association, said pilots are allowed to call out if they do not get enough rest between flights. Southwest Airlines reported fatigue callouts are up 360% in March.
“It’s a numbers game, and the smaller the numbers, the more pilots who are fatigued, the more that call out, the more flights are canceled, and that just slows aviation in general,” Teiger said.
How do you plan for this? Some of these flights were canceled at the gate after people had already cleared security.
It is a moment where you keep your fingers crossed and prepare to search for alternate arrangements if this happens to you.
The video below is from a previous newscast on April 14, 2022.