When it comes to airline flight cancellations, the news is all about what is going on after hurricane Ian, and many are still talking about COVID.
Airlines are canceling flights, cutting routes, and reducing capacity to cope with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, hurricane Ian and pilot shortage. The number of airline flight cancellations has risen dramatically since the start of the year.
Before the pandemic, the airline industry was already struggling. Passenger demand had fallen for years as people opted to travel by other means, such as trains or car rental services.
How Has Hurricane Ian Affected Airline Flight Cancellations?
It’s not just the aftereffects of COVID causing issues. The weather plays a big part in cancellations also.
On September 25, 2022, a hurricane, category 4 to 5, slowly made its way across southwest Florida. Ian caused widespread flooding, surges, power outages, and catastrophic damage with significant outages and damage to the Fort Myers (RSW) airport. Airline cancelations have skyrocketed in the past 2 weeks. Why is this happening?
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Southwest Airlines canceled more than 1,000 flights between October 3 and November 6. These were flights from New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, Dallas/Fort Worth, Orlando, Miami, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, and many other cities all over the US.
Is The Shortage Of Pilots Causing Airline Flight Cancellations?
What is the story on airline pilots and flight crews, and is there enough in 2022 to meet the supply and demand? The answer is no; there are not enough pilots to fly all of the planes.
The shortage is mostly due to poor working conditions and increased requirements for pilots’ certification. Pilots are working long hours with very little rest. According to the FAA, pilots can only work so many hours a day, so when those work hours are complete, that leaves no one to fly a plane.
The requirements for a commercial pilot to fly increased to 1500 flying hours, and many pilots did not want to pay the extra expense to prove they could fly a plane.
The shortage of pilots is severe, to the tune of 8000 pilots less this year and 30,000 fewer by 2025.
What Are Airlines Doing About The Airline Flight Cancellations?
Simply put, they are canceling flights that affect everyone who flies.
In August of 2022, American Airlines announced that they would cut 31,000 flights in November. And this was before hurricane Ian and the devastation it caused.
Delta Air Lines has a 4% cancelation rate of around 3600 flights and a 25% delay time.
Southwest has decreased its flights by 65,000 this year alone.
All other airline flight cancellations for domestic travel follow the ones above. It is not one thing causing the cancelations and delays but a combination of rising issues.
How Can One Or Two Airline Flight Cancellations Affect So Many Airports?
The operation and interoperation of airlines and airports are intricate. One delay or one cancelation can mess up the whole system. Planes must be on time and arrive according to schedule, or the entire network is off balance. So imagine what chaos takes place when you throw hurricanes and shortages into the mix.
Let’s say a plane left Fort Myers (RSW) headed to Atlanta (ATL), but the flight takes off 2 hours late because the power at FortMyers is not fully functional after the recent hurricane. So the arrival at Atlanta is 2 hours late. Atlanta is the third largest airport in the US and has 219 nonstop flights. So just one plane coming in late will throw off the entire grid of scheduled flights. Those passengers waiting for the plane from Atlanta are now running 2 hours late to their next destination, which will produce a snowball effect.
How Do All Of These Airline Flight Cancellations Affect You And Me?
If you are new to flying or a frequent flyer, it rearranges your whole life. If you are traveling for business, you must ensure everything goes smoothly. If you are planning a vacation, you want to know what is going on before leaving. Not to mention, passengers rely on the airlines to notify them of any changes. Yet many airlines are changing things up without notification to the paying customer.
I am flying out of RSW tomorrow, and everything has changed. My flights were all changed, and many cancellations have happened. But the airline did not notify me. I just happened to look at my literary to find my flights were different. Then when I went to rebook, I discovered that I had very few options because of so many canceled flights. I am at the mercy of the airlines and feel helpless.
So What Can We Do About Airline Flight Cancelations?
We can’t control the weather or airline companies or how many pilots are available to fly.
But wait, why do I feel so helpless? Mostly because I am used to many options and getting where I want to go when I want to. Things are not that way any longer. Will it ever be the same with the pandemic, hurricane Ian, and the shortage of pilots?
Neither you nor I can change what is happening or what is coming in the near future. However, we can protect ourselves against airline flight cancellations and check itineraries frequently.
According to the US DOT, you can get a refund of your flight ticket if the airline cancels your flight. You can take advantage of this option and book with another airline. But remember, all airlines are canceling and having delays.
They struggle to keep flying, and we consumers are in the middle.
FAQs About Airline Flight Cancellations
Here are some commonly asked questions regarding airline flight cancellations.
How do I know if my flight will get Cancelled?
Stay proactive and check online or use the app for the airline you are flying. Enter information into the app, such as flight number, date of departure, and the airport.
What are you entitled to when an airline cancels your flight?
According to the DOT, you may get a refund for your ticket and any other fees you paid, such as a bag fee or seat upgrade.
Can airlines legally cancel flights?
Yes, your airline can legally cancel any flight. But if you choose not to rebook that flight, you can get a refund.
Quick Video On Airline Flight Cancellations – CBS News
Airline Flight Cancellations – Conclusion
Airline flight cancelations and flight delays are increasing due to weather, the pandemic, and a shortage of pilots, but the struggle was real before these obstacles were an issue. The traveler is taking a beating; it feels like we are coming out on the short end, or is it a change of the times?
We cannot control bad weather or airline companies or how many pilots are available to fly.
However, as a consumer, we can protect ourselves by checking our itinerary often and booking with other airlines if needed. I hope for the best for each of you.
Addendum To The Conclusion
I returned on my flight just yesterday. I did not have any more cancellations. The flight crew on each Southwest airline flight traveling to my destination was unkind and very unhappy. They made rude and unnecessary snide remarks on each flight to the passengers. Yet the flight crew was kind and wonderfully accommodating on the return flights.
This leads me to wonder if there is something more to what is going on that we do not know about. Maybe in time, we will know the whole truth.
Happy travels, my friends.