Travel-pocalypse 2022 reaches a fresh boiling points as airlines struggle to bring workers back

Wednesday, June 22, 2022 by Robinhood Snacks |

Camping out at the airport Starbucks... Your plane might not arrive, but at least there are cake pops. A new federal holiday + Father's Day + national labor shortage = the perfect recipe for a travel-pocalypse. US airlines have canceled or delayed 35K+ flights since Thursday, a #fail that’s becoming a theme as travel rebounds.

  • Nearly a third of scheduled flights on Thursday and Friday were delayed (and 3K+ were canceled). Delta, American, and Southwest experienced the most disruption.
  • Airlines mostly blamed staffing shortages. After offering pilots and flight attendants buyouts or early retirements mid-pandemic, they're struggling to staff up again.
  • Meanwhile: TSA traveler volumes are cruising near pre-pandemic levels, and notched a pandemic high over the weekend.

Postponed till next summer... Yesterday was the first day of summer, but airlines have been feeling the heat for a while. Back in April 2020, airlines got $25B in bailouts from the US gov't so they could continue paying their hundreds of thousands of employees. Under the terms, airlines couldn't make any job cuts until October 2020. Cue October, and tens of thousands were furloughed or cut.

  • Many are frustrated that after nearly three years and billions in government aid, airlines can't get their shifts together to serve returning travelers.
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is considering punishments (think: fines) for airlines that don't stick to their summer flight schedules.

Ramping up’s harder than ramping down… When demand was corona-crushed, airlines skimmed their workforces too much. Now they’re offering incentives to get people back: American has offered rounds of raises and bonuses to regional employees, while Alaska and United are offering aspiring pilots financial aid at newly opened flight-training schools. But it could be too little too late: airline staff shortages could last well into next year.