Well, we made it home. Left New York at 7am Sunday morning. Whew.
Our luggage had already made it to Tampa. There it was… just waiting for us. Our bags were lined up with all the others. I started laughing. It looked like a cemetery. All those suitcases lined up like a row of headstones.
For those luggage workers, it was like a funeral. Their own. They looked exhausted. Beat up. None of this their fault either.
It was a bad weekend for air travel. Not just for us. For many, many people. Since Thursday, 19-thousand flights have been canceled or delayed. 19-thousand!
Friday was the busiest day for air travel so far this year. 2.4 million passed through security checkpoints.
What’s going on here? The airlines say it’s weather and staff shortages due to Covid infections. It feels like it’s bigger than that.
Here’s what the travel website Afar says is going on: “Airines are struggling with shortages of workers, especially pilots, which are hurting their ability to operate all their planned flights. Pilot unions at Delta, American and Southwest have said their airlines were too slow to replace pilots who retired or took leaves of absence during the early part of the pandemic.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigeg is pressuring airines to do better. The government is threatening fines.
Now, the concern is that the airlines may cut back on their summer schedules to ensure their flights arrive on time.
The 4th of July holiday is coming up. This should be a good test of things. Secretary Buttigieg says he wants the airlines to stress test their flight schedules.
He also wants them to hire additional customer service workers if necessary. That would help a lot. Being on hold for over an hour is frustrating.
Look, we got home. A few nights in New York City. No big deal. It was just the two of us. It was kind of fun, really.
What about a family? We just heard from a family with three kids. Stuck. That’s tough.
Into the new week, there are already cancellations. The troubles continue.
If I have any advice, it’s this. If you are stepping on a plane and checking luggage, make sure you have two days of extra clothes with you. Pack a carry-on bag. Just in case.
“Flightmare.” That’s the phrase from Afar. It’s a tough summer. You just can’t get there from here. At least to Tampa from JFK on Friday night.