NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As millions more take to the skies, some major airlines are having trouble keeping up with the surge.
As CBS2 reported on Monday, American Airlines is cancelling nearly 1,000 flights from now through mid-July for issues like pilot shortages.
Reporter Alice Gainer has more on the impact on travelers.
“It went from just us trying to enjoy ourselves to how are we going to get home?” Brooklyn’s Oceola Woodruff said.
Woodruff was on a catamaran in Mexico on Saturday when she received a message from American Airlines about her flight the next day. It was cancelled without explanation.
The airline automatically rebooked her for a flight Tuesday, two days after her original flight home.
“I have work responsibilities and I needed to be back,” Woodruff said.
Chantell Beaumont was with Woodruff and a large group of people, all in the same boat, literally and figuratively, trying to book new flights back on different airlines.
“We waited like almost two hours on hold with American Airlines,” Beaumont said.
“One of my girlfriends, her flight was almost $900. It’s an additional expense that I didn’t plan for,” Woodruff added.
American Airlines increased flights from 2,200 a day during the pandemic to about 5,800 this month. It had major weather disruptions in nine of the first 15 days in June, and announced it will cancel 50 to 80 flights a day through at least mid-July as it tries to “build in additional resilience and certainty” to its flight schedule.
“The airlines were caught with their pants down. They scheduled too many flights, and they didn’t have enough people ready to operate the flights,” travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt said.
Some of its pilots were still in post-furlough re-training.
“You didn’t have enough pilots to fly the airplanes. Pretty simple,” said Capt. Dennis Tajer, spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association.
United CEO Scott Kirby warned there could be a pilot shortage in the U.S.
“The military produces far fewer pilots today than they did, you know, in the Vietnam and Cold War era. And, it’s hard to become a pilot, a commercial airline pilot, on your own if you’re not going through the military,” Kirby said.
Southwest was also hit with delays and cancellations due to weather and a three-day series of computer issues.
The Transportation Security Administration struggled to have enough screeners.
“You have an airport problem,” CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg said.
Greenberg offered a tip to avoid large crowds if you’re planning to book something soon.
“Think of an alternate airport. Think of Islip instead of LaGuardia. Think of Providence instead of Boston. Think of Milwaukee instead of Chicago,” Greenberg said.
He also said to check in right away when you get to the airport. Just because you booked a flight doesn’t mean you’re getting on the plane, especially if it’s overbooked.
In a statement, American Airlines said it will provide a full refund to customers who rebook their flight more than four hours from their original departure time.