Are you traveling this summer? Pack your patience.

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Are you traveling this summer? Prepare for delayed or canceled flights, understaffed hotels and expensive car rentals. Here’s everything you need to know:

Why are so many flights delayed and cancelled?

There are several reasons why thousands of flights have been delayed and canceled since the start of the busy summer travel season. There are still staff shortages related to the coronavirus pandemic; in early 2020, when almost no one was flying, many pilots took buyouts, and now carriers have to hire and train new pilots, which takes time. Due to staff shortages, airlines are cutting flights from their schedules as demand increases – air travel is almost back to pre-pandemic levels as many Americans want to catch up on travel time. vacation lost. “It’s pretty clear that people have been locked down for two years and they want to travel now,” said travel analyst Jason Rabinowitz. The Washington Post. “When I look at airline availability right now, I’ve never seen it this tight before – just about every flight in the system is 100 per cent full.”

Additionally, flight crews have maximum duty periods and are not legally allowed to work beyond that, even if they were waiting for a plane that was delayed. Sometimes, however, the reason for a delay or cancellation is as mundane as the weather, with severe thunderstorms bringing flights to a standstill. “This is an extraordinarily challenging travel season,” said Marc Casto, president of leisure brands in the Americas for Flight Center Travel Group. Job. “It’s a confluence of multiple forces all hitting at the same time, which has resulted in a bad experience for everyone involved.”

What’s behind the high prices of hotels and rental cars?

Just as with flights, there is a demand for hotels and rental cars from people wanting to take a vacation. There is also a shortage of workers; the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in May, employment in recreation and hospitality fell 7.9% from February 2020.

To stay afloat during the early days of the pandemic, car rental companies began selling off their vehicles, and the industry lost more than 500,000 cars, or a third of their combined fleets, CNN reports. Now they don’t have enough inventory to meet demand. Plus, with inflation, prices rise on everything from food to fuel, and that’s factored into hotel and car rental rates. Right now, the average hotel room rate is 23% higher than it was this time around in 2021, according to the American Automobile Association.

Are the airlines expecting the 4th of July holiday weekend to be tough?

All signs point to yes. On Wednesday – three days after the carrier canceled 224 flights due to weather and “air traffic control constraints” – Delta Air Lines announced it would let customers book, free of charge, flights scheduled between July 1 and July 4, as long as the fare has the same origin and destination and travel occurs before July 8. “Delta people are working around the clock to rebuild Delta’s operation while making it as resilient as possible to minimize the effects of disruptions,” the carrier said in a statement. “Even so, some operational challenges are expected this holiday weekend.”

On Thursday, Delta pilots participated in information pickets across the United States, including at the carrier’s hub, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. They want to draw attention to their stalled contract negotiations, with union leader Jason Ambrosi telling NBC News: “These pilots have stood up and been front-line leaders during the pandemic, working a record number of overtime hours. to get our customers safely to their destinations. They won, won an industry-leading contract.” A spokesperson for the Air Line Pilots Association International said the pilots would not go out during the holiday weekend.

Is anything being done to address these flight delays and cancellations?

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wants to hit airlines where it hurts: their bottom line. On Wednesday, Sanders sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg saying immediate action is needed to resolve the issue. Passengers and crew are left “stranded in crowded airports across the country, forcing them to miss weddings, funerals and business meetings and ruining family vacations that have been planned for months in advance,” Sanders said, and he reminded Buttigieg that “during the pandemic, when air travel almost stopped, American taxpayers came to the rescue and donated $54 billion dollars to the airline industry….Given all of the generous taxpayer support that has been provided to the airline industry, we all have a responsibility to ensure that passengers and members of crew are treated with respect and not with contempt.”

Sanders called on Buttigieg to require airlines to promptly reimburse passengers for flights delayed over an hour; good airlines for flights delayed over two hours; and fining airlines $55,000 per passenger if they cancel flights they knew could not be fully staffed. “We can’t allow airlines to increase revenue by encouraging Americans to book flights that corporate executives understand will never get off the ground due to understaffing,” Sanders said.

Buttigieg met with airline executives about the flight disruptions and earlier this week dismissed claims that the Federal Aviation Administration was in fact responsible for the delays. “The majority of cancellations and the majority of delays have nothing to do with air traffic control personnel,” he said. NBC Nightly News.

What can I do as a traveler this summer?

First, pack your patience. If you’re flying, give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport – you may have to wait in longer security lines – and only check a bag if you have to. When booking your tickets, try to secure a seat on the first flight of the day – it’s less likely to be delayed or canceled, and you can catch up on your sleep in the air. If you need to connect, make sure you have plenty of time to get to your next flight. you can’t afford to cut it close right now. For those traveling to a major event, such as a wedding or family reunion, plan your flight a day or two in advance, giving yourself a little extra time in case of delays. Also look for hotels that offer free cancellations and consider purchasing travel insurance.

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