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Airlines Struggle with Flights Ahead of the Holidays

Flights have been canceled as companies deal with staff and weather problems.

By:  |  November 15, 2021  |    537 Words
southwest airlines plane GettyImages-1089840328

(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

As the holiday season gets closer, Americans are sure to be traveling around the country to spend time with family. While the COVID pandemic has stopped a lot of people from boarding planes, trains, and buses over the last two years, thousands of Americans are likely hoping to reunite with relatives this Thanksgiving. That is, if there are enough vehicles available. Airlines have been struggling to keep up with demand for flights over the last few months, due to staff shortages and weather problems.

Canceled Flights

Southwest Airlines made news when it canceled more than 1,000 flights over one weekend in October, causing frustration to passengers. Customers complained that they had been stranded at airports or missed important occasions like family weddings.

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(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The company blamed the issues on bad weather and a problem with air traffic control.

Pilot groups have been complaining for months that their members have suffered due to staff shortages, uncertain schedules, and even a lack of hotel rooms. Unions for flight attendants and mechanics have been saying the same thing. Many employees have quit over incidents with unruly passengers. Southwest is ready to cancel more flights. The airline has already reduced its scheduled flights for November and December, said company president Mike Van de Ven.

Other airlines have had problems, too. United Airlines recently announced it will stop flying to 11 American cities. American Airlines canceled almost 2,000 flights on Halloween weekend due to wind gusts around its home base in Dallas, Texas. Three runways were forced to close due to the bad weather – but the company has been having problems since June.

What’s Causing the Issues?

It’s thought that airlines have not been well prepared to deal with the sudden rise in customer demand as the country returns to normal life after the COVID pandemic. Since not many people were traveling during the pandemic, airlines got rid of staff. Now, more people want to book flights, but the airlines are not prepared. Staffing problems have been made worse due to disagreements over vaccines. For example, United Airlines requires all employees to be vaccinated – and it is firing 232 workers who don’t want to get the injection.

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(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

American Airlines wants to hire 2,500 more pilots, but it isn’t easy to train them because there are not enough instructors and flight simulators available. Almost 1,800 flight attendants are returning to work, and the airline hopes to hire 600 more by the end of the year. The company is also hiring 4,000 support workers this year, said executive David G. Seymour.

It’s not all bad news for airlines, though. A COVID ban on European travelers has finally ended, bringing more international travelers into the United States. Delta Airlines has already reported a big increase in international bookings, just days after the travel ban was lifted.

What can Americans expect over the holiday season? Some are worried that there will be problems with flights during this busy time of year. Luckily, online platforms like Zoom make getting in touch with loved ones easier than ever.

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