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Major Airlines Could Cut Your Flight This Summer Despite Record Demand. Here’s Why.

News Airports + Flying
by Nickolaus Hines Apr 11, 2022

Travel industry experts are expecting this summer to be an extremely busy travel season. That, combined with staffing shortages and higher fuel costs, may also make it an extremely frustrating travel season for anyone looking to fly.

According to an email reviewed by CNBC, JetBlue’s COO and president Joanna Geraghty told staff May capacity has already been cut by eight to 10 percent and “you can expect to see a similar size capacity pull for the remainder of the summer.”

The airline is offering incentives to keep the flights that haven’t been canceled on the schedule. JetBlue is giving a $1,000 bonus to flight attendants who don’t call in sick between April 8 and May 31, according to TravelPulse.

The shortages and other challenges will surely make what was already predicted to be an expensive travel season even more costly. A report from the booking agency Hopper found that airfare will rise an average of seven percent until May, and that prices for domestic flights were up 40 percent from January to March.

Last summer, staffing shortages caused hundreds of flight cancellations as well. This year could be even worse as flight crews feel the pressure. Geraghty told staff in the email reviewed by CNBC that the airline is reducing capacity based on feedback that schedules are too tight and that although “the industry still remains very much in recovery mode,” fewer flights is a “proactive step” in the right direction.

Recent weather in Florida gave people a taste of what may be to come. Hundreds of flights were canceled the past two weekends, sending passengers scrambling to find ways to leave or arrive in the state.

According to USA Today, JetBlue and Spirit (two airlines that recently announced a possible merger) canceled more than 550 flights on April 9 and 10. And those aren’t the only two. Alaska Airlines announced it’ll cut two percent of flights through June due to a pilot shortage.

It doesn’t end there. After this summer, Delta is ending select routes as well. Flights from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Providence, Rhode Island, and the New York cities of Albany, Rochester, and Syracuse will all end after September at the latest. United Airlines cut flights from Cleveland this summer due to a shortage of pilots, according to local news reports, which also noted United is offering about 85 percent of the flights it did in 2019.

There is one bright spot: American Airlines said in March that it was ready for all of the summer passengers after an increase in staffing.

If none of this has deterred you, here’s how to find the cheapest flights (and when to book them).

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