You might wish to rethink your summer time journey plans. This is why.

Anyone looking for a summer getaway can find themselves caught up in a chaotic web of canceled flights, expensive rental cars or fully booked hotels. The prospect of going from point A to point B without expensive headache may seem all but impossible.
Consider this: On Wednesday, 639 flights in, to or out of the United States were canceled and 5,837 flights delayed, according to flight tracking data from Flight knowledge.
Only Delta Air Lines has cut about 100 flights a day ahead of its schedule in July to “minimize disruption” and issued a tourist waiver on July 4 because it was increasing passenger numbers “unseen since before the pandemic.” .”

Renting a car – if you can find one – will likely cost you more than it did years ago. And hotel prices across the country are also climbing. Lots to relax.

What’s happening?

Your summer travel troubles are (probably) not your fault. In the skies, airlines have significantly fewer employees, especially pilots, than they did before the pandemic. And on the road, car shortages have pushed rental prices into double digits.

Add in record high inflation with significant recreational travel needs and you have a recipe for trouble.

A lot of this chaos can be traced back to Covid-19.

It starts with demand. Airlines and hotels are forecasting record travel this summer as Americans who have delayed trips during the pandemic return to vacation.

Short staffing needs. Although airlines received $54 billion in federal assistance during the height of Covid to avoid involuntary layoffs, they have fewer employees after offering buyback and retirement packages. early to cut staff and save money.

Short-term staffing creates many problems. Therefore, activities can quickly disbanded when there is bad weather, the air traffic control center is understaffed or the staff is sick.

Then there is inflation. The Consumer Price Index, the government’s top inflation gauge, estimates that overall fares rose 37.8% year-on-year in May and 21.7% year-on-year, before epidemic.

Remember, amid the raging outbreak, the Federal Reserve implemented emergency stimulus measures to keep financial markets from falling. The central bank has cut interest rates to near zero and started pumping tens of billions of dollars a month into the market by buying back corporate debt.

In doing so, the bank was able to avert a financial crisis. But maintaining those easy money policies also has boosted inflationthat’s why your plane tickets are so much more expensive than before.

Rental cars also have a pandemic problem. During the height of the pandemic, the industry sold more than half a million cars, about a third of its combined fleet, just to generate the cash needed to survive the crisis. After a year of deep losses, rental car companies have had a hard time rebuilding their fleets to meet demand, leading to sky-high prices before you’ve filled the tank.

So is the hotel. You won’t feel relieved when you reach your destination either. Remember the pent-up travel demand problem? That falls on a limited number of accommodations and leads to some enticing prices.

Rates for an average hotel room are 23% higher than last year, according to AAA.

What is the Biden administration doing?

Earlier this month, Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg called on airline executives in a private conversation to review their flight schedules and take other steps to lessen the impact of the virus. flight cancellations over the summer, a source familiar with the call called. told CNN’s Gregory Wallace.

The source said Buttigieg asked CEOs to discuss plans to prevent and respond to disruptions over the July 4 holiday weekend and beyond.

What are the airlines saying?

US airlines want you to know they’re trying. Airlines for America, the group that represents major US airlines, told CNN in a statement on Thursday that it is making “every effort to help ensure smooth travel this weekend.”

“U.S. airlines are facing a range of challenges – including weather and staffing at the airline and federal government levels – and are doing their best to help ensure smooth travel at the end of the day. This week and year-round.As always, we are working closely and partnering with the federal government to address challenges, including extreme weather, so we can adjust schedules and events. carrier may contact travelers as soon as possible,” the statement said.

The group’s airline members are taking different approaches to reducing flight disruptions in the summer, including cutting the number of flights and allowing passengers to rebook without charging those non-peak period.

However, critics argue that airlines should have anticipating a lot of this problem before the summer tourist season.

How long will this last?

Read this piece by aviation journalist John Walton.

He wrote: In most cases, the problem is that too many experienced people have been let go during the pandemic – fired or voluntarily laid off – and airlines, airports and other key parts of The aviation system was not hired and in capacity. enough people to replace them.

That’s the important level point. Since airlines and airports know all too well, there is a whole process involved to get someone a security card that allows them to work on the plane or at the airport gate.

In other words, getting around will be difficult for a while.

How can you prepare?

If you have summer travel plans, you won’t have to suffer. CNN travel group pulled together useful tips that will get you to your destination if it involves flying.

As soon as possible. Making flights depart early in the day helps avoid the impact of delays and cancellations. Bad weather also easily affects later flights.

To make buffer time for events that can’t be missed. Don’t travel on the day of an important event like a wedding. Plan to arrive at least a day early.

Claim your hotel voucher if your flight is cancelled. If you are unable to board the same day flight, you should request a meal or hotel voucher. In many cases, such as weather events, airlines are not required to provide, but you should ask.

Most importantly, always take care. Don’t vent your frustrations on the customer service staff. They do not make operational decisions.

CNN’s Gregory Wallace, Chuck Johnston and Ramishah Maruf, contributed to this report.

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