- Travelers are canceling flights amid the summer surge in COVID-19 cases. The Transportation Security Administration reported its lowest air travel numbers of the summer on Tuesday and Wednesday after hitting its highest traffic of the year at the beginning of August.
- More than 1.4 million people went through TSA checkpoints Tuesday and 1.5 million on Wednesday, the agency reported. It’s a large decrease from the 2.2 million reported in early August.
- “There’s a lot more anxiety with airlines, with hotels, with cruise lines and all members of the travel industry right now compared to just a couple of months ago,” said travel analyst Henry Harteveldt.
- Harteveldt said business travel could take a hit, too. “We’re going to see more and more of these meetings getting moved online as companies try to figure out how to keep their employees safe,” he said.
- Some officials are urging travelers to reconsider their plans. Hawaii’s governor is discouraging incoming travel as hospitals are at capacity. The European Union is also reconsidering allowing Americans into the region over surging case
- Southwest Airlines Co. will reduce its flight schedule for the last four months of the year after employees assailed the discount carrier for understaffing operations during a summer marred by delays and cancellations.
- “To any Southwest customer whose journey with us fell short of their expectation this summer, we offer our sincerest apologies,” said Southwest Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly. He told employees, “As our business recovery continues, we’re 100% dedicated to improving the quality of your work day.”
- Southwest unveiled the schedule cuts two weeks after warning that surging virus infections were crimping sales and prompting customers to cancel flight reservations.
- The company has also absorbed a wave of employee criticism, with flight attendants complaining of overwork and pilots threatening to protest publicly if operations don’t improve. Southwest suffered a rash of delayed and canceled flights this summer as travel rebounded.
- The cuts come atop previous reductions Southwest made to adjust for the typical slowdown in September and to respond to a surge in new Covid infections that have curbed travel demand.
- American Airlines Group Inc. joined other U.S. carriers in warning that the delta variant of Covid-19 is slowing sales and leading travelers to cancel flight reservations, pushing August revenue below the company’s expectations.
- The carrier also is preparing for a more “muted” uptick in business travel into the fourth quarter, but isn’t yet ready to change its financial guidance, Vasu Raja, American’s chief revenue officer, said Wednesday at an industry conference.
- The comments add to mounting evidence that higher caseloads threaten to derail a U.S. travel recovery. Southwest Airlines Co. said on Aug. 11 that the decline in demand tied to the coronavirus resurgence may make it difficult to report a profitable third quarter, while JetBlue Airways Corp., Spirit Airlines Inc. and Frontier Airlines also have commented on softening demand and canceled bookings. Summer travel demand peaks this month.
- American and other carriers benefited from a jump in summer leisure travel by consumers who spent more than a year staying close to home and then rushed to take vacations or reunite with family and friends. But the surge in cases caused by the variant — and decisions by more companies to delay full reopenings of their offices — may push out a vital recovery in U.S. business travel.
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been flooded with complaints about unruly airline passengers this year, and the agency is fed up. After doling out more than $1 million in fines in the first half of 2021, the FAA released a chilling PSA to get its message across about bad behavior in the skies.
- The message is clear. “Unruly behavior doesn’t fly.” In a tweet containing the video, the FAA revealed it’s received 3,988 reports of unruly passengers and 2,928 reports of people refusing to wear a mask. Additionally, 693 investigations were initiated, and 132 cases involved penalties.
- The video features real audio from pilots to air traffic controllers, including a pilot’s request that authorities come to the scene to deal with an incident. It’s part of the FAA’s effort to stop unruly passengers from acting out onboard flights, disrupting travel for other passengers, and endangering flight crews.
- Of all the incidents, 71% were related to a refusal to comply with mask mandates. Regardless, the Transportation Security Administration has announced that it will be extending its mask mandate into January 2022.