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Cancellations, high airfare likely to plague summer vacationers

Southwest Airlines planes wait in line to take off from the Dallas Love Field Airport in Dallas, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. The National Weather Service reports a wave of ice/sleet exiting to the north this morning. (Lola Gomez/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

If you plan on flying to a beach vacation this summer, be prepared for flight cancellations and high ticket prices.

Several major airlines are already cutting flights this summer because of inadequate staffing.

“So you’re seeing airlines like JetBlue canceling 27 routes. You’re seeing Southwest Airlines canceling 10% of their scheduled [flights], United Airlines canceling 20,000 flights in May and June, and the list goes on,” said Peter Greenberg, CBS News travel editor.

The reasons we are seeing such large-scale cancellations, Greenburg said, is because there are “not enough pilots, not enough cabin crew. And they literally cannot staff the schedule that they have.”

Even in early parts of the month, when airlines should be flush with crew members because they are starting a new work cycle, delays are still seen across the country: Greenberg said a flight of his last week was delayed eight hours.

Airline policies during the early days of the pandemic, he said, have left airlines in a mess.

“When the airlines were taking the government aid, it was specifically geared to the airlines to not lay off anybody, to keep everybody on the payroll, which the airlines did. But at the same time the airlines had offered very attractive buyout packages and early retirement packages for people who wanted to leave the airline,” said Greenberg.

“And a lot more people did than the airlines anticipated. And the airlines did not ramp up fast enough, even when they knew there was a storm coming.”

That storm is here, and along with cuts in service, expect high airfare for the foreseeable future.

Fares started the year increasing by about 7% a month due to the increase in demand from travelers, but it has escalated aggressively.

“Then with the situation in Ukraine and rising fuel prices, it went up 7% every 10 days. Now it’s at about 7% every four days and it shows no sign of abating,” said Greenberg.

If you do plan on traveling this summer, you may want to go international, especially to Europe.

“Right now a round-trip airfare to Ireland from the U.S. is as low as $599. And to put that in perspective, that’s not even the cost of a New York-to-Los Angeles round trip,” Greenberg told WTOP. “The cost of a New York-to-Lisbon flight is less than it is in many cases than from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Crazy, right?”