First Sign That Flying This Summer Could Be A Nightmare

by SharonKurheg

Ever since we started crawling out of the pandemic, air travel has been pretty bad. The lack of flight attendants, pilots, gate crew and allied aviation professionals has made for many more cancelled and delayed flights, mishandled luggage, etc.

Most of those problems circle back to airlines letting thousands of employees go at the start of the pandemic. As they’ve (re)hired new staff, trained new/more pilots, etc., things have admittedly improved, at least to an extent. Heck, Joe and I haven’t even done our typical Plan B, to ensure we get to our destination, in a few months now!

Unfortunately, it looks as if flying this summer could become a cluster once again. But this time it’s not because of anything the airlines have or haven’t done.

This time it’s all on the FAA.

Multiple news outlets are reporting the FAA is asking major airlines to cut the number of flights they fly this summer, due to a severe shortage of air traffic controllers.

In a letter to airlines, the Federal Aviation Authority, citing a severe lack of air traffic controllers, could cause serious delays and cancellations. The agency predicts delays to skyrocket; up to 45% in busy airports such as those around New York City ( John F. Kennedy International Airport [JFK[, New York LaGuardia Airport [LGA], and Newark Liberty International Airport [EWR], as well as Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).

The FAA’s goal is to be “predictive,” so that the number of air traffic controllers and demand “match up.” To do this, the agency is asking airlines to cut service in the NYC and Washington DC areas by up to 10% during the busy period of May 15, 2023 through September 15, 2023.

Delta, United and jetBlue are reportedly considering the request.

“We don’t want to pull down flights…but if we don’t cut them the system is not going to be workable this summer,” said Robin Hayes, CEO of jetBlue.

Despite all the problems travelers have had with interrupted flight in the past year or two (there were 41,000 flight delays last summer alone), the number of flights people are taking continue to increase, are nearly at levels of pre-pandemic times, and some are at or beginning to go above pandemic levels. Delays in Global Entry interviews remain a problem (here are a few alternative ways to snag an interview), and the number of people trying to get or renew passports has caused the backlog of those requests getting processed to increase – both showing that the demand for travel continues to increase.

Of course, if you have no plans to fly to or from DCA, EWR, JFK or LGA, you may think this issue won’t affect you. However, consider that:

  • JFK is a major airport for international flights. Need to get a positioning flight to get to Europe? It might be through JFK.
  • JFK is also a hub for American Airlines and Delta Airlines. It’s also the primary operating base for jetBlue.
  • EWR is a major hub for United.
  • DCA is a hub for American Airlines.
  • Southwest frequently stops at LGA as part of its point-to-point flight map.

…these issues are going to be pretty far-reaching.

Start getting those Plan Bs ready, y’all. And get your summer flight plans done EARLY.

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1 comment

lars April 3, 2023 - 4:31 pm

The feds better figure something out. Mess with my summer travel plans, and I just might pull the lever for a candidate who might be in prison lol.


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