CLEVELAND – This summer travel season will be very different from last summer. Airlines are filling seats on planes and countries are starting to reopen to travelers. But some fear that airport infrastructure will not keep up.
Airlines like American and United are facing staff shortages, and the Transportation Security Administration is trying to hire 6,000 people.
“Airlines continue to cancel flights, to combine schedules,” local travel agent Kathy Yarian said of the impact of staffing issues on airlines nationwide. “Their flight was canceled and they were booked for the next day, they were booked several hours later. It’s really frustrating.”
In the past six months, travelers have spent more than $ 21 billion to travel around the country, meaning airports are busier than at the same time last year.
Ethan and Lena Bogs were looking for their bags after flying to Cleveland from Mississippi. With a connection through Atlanta-Hartfield, Ethan Bogs said he could see the difference.
“There were really people everywhere,” he said. “Looks like there are a lot of people here too.
The airline industry has lost hundreds of thousands of workers during the pandemic, and the current delay in hiring could slow down summer vacation departures.
“A tight connection is your worst enemy,” Yarian said, adding that with more planes and fewer personnel, the turnaround time to clean planes can be longer.
But, Yarian said schedules are expected to speed up for business travel this fall.
“I’m very ready to be over. And I see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Yarian said. “We are very excited.”
A Cleveland-Hopkins spokesperson declined to comment on airport staff, but said he expected more than 2 million travelers this summer.