Travellers at the Airport Photo: Yahoo Finance

Aviation Blues: Travellers stranded, thousands of flights cancelled due to pilot shortage

*Industry analysts have suggested easing the requirements for pilot certification, including the rule requiring 1,500 hours of flight time before ever sitting in the pilot’s seat on a commercial aircraft

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Several global airlines have been cancelling flights all year long, and the prospects did not look any better for the July 4, 2022, weekend, agency report stated.

According to FlightAware, there were 1,948 flights cancelled Friday, July 1 and another 705 Saturday, July 2.

For several travellers, the July 4th weekend is the only time they would venture somewhere this summer.

Some major airlines in the United States

That, in and of itself, will be a major headache for the airlines, but the bigger issue airlines are facing is trying to find enough pilots to fly their airplanes, report said.

Airlines continue to struggle to replace the thousands of pilots who took buyouts when airlines responded to the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic two years ago.

It was gathered that without those pilots to depend on, airlines have little choice but to ground flights.

The only thing that might resolve the issue is something that industry analysts are proposing – easing the requirements for pilot certification, including the rule requiring 1,500 hours of flight time before ever sitting in the pilot’s seat on a commercial aircraft.

It is also noted if a consumer is flying on Delta, things might be better than on other airlines

If the fact that consumer complaints against airlines have risen 300 percent above pre-pandemic levels is any indication, anyone who’s flying somewhere this summer needs to be ready for the possibility of their flight being cancelled or them being bumped from a flight – a move that, by the way, may sound egregious but is not illegal.

Some of that may depend on what airline you’re flying on, according to report.

Quoting the US Department of Transportation data from April, for instance, Delta Airlines sports the highest on-time arrival rates – 81.9 percent.

Report also indicated that the airline looked like it was prepared for the worst this weekend. FlightAware data showed that Delta has zero flights cancelled for Saturday.

However, the airline reportedly knew that things could change quickly, and it had decided to be as proactive as possible to avoid creating headaches for holiday travelers by preemptively issuing travel waivers for flights between July 1 and July 4.

According to SimpleFlying, Delta Air Lines is “significantly” allowing its customers to change their flights for free and waive any resulting difference in fare for travel booked for July 1-4.

It’s also giving those fliers an opportunity to rebook their trips before or after potentially challenging weekend travel days.

“This unique waiver is being issued to give Delta customers greater flexibility to plan around busy travel times, weather forecasts and other variables without worrying about a potential cost to do so,” the airline noted in a blog post.

Waiver or not, even the most undaunted of travelers should be thinking ahead and considering their options.

“If you’re flying Delta — or any other airline — this weekend, it might be best to try and change to the first flight of the day, if possible, as those flights are the least likely to be delayed or cancelled,” Ethan Klapper wrote for The Points Guy.

“Also, if you’re travelling ahead of a cruise or an important gathering, try and leave some additional buffer between your flight and wherever you’re headed,” Klapper added.

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