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With the recent pandemic having less of an impact on daily life, more people are confident about traveling this summer. However, many potential travelers may have to downgrade their plans due to the many challenges facing them this year, the biggest of which is the much higher cost. In addition, the travel industry has changed a lot since the pandemic, with levels of overall service being much lower than in the past and less predictable. 

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Industry estimates show that travel in 2022 should return to or even exceed the pre-pandemic level. Many people tired of being at home on the couch looking at the point spread for their favorite team or thumbing through Tik Tok videos are desperate to make up for the lost time by getting away this summer. As a result, this will be a hectic travel season with many challenges, whether traveling domestically or internationally.

Airlines Face Many Obstacles

The airline industry has been preparing for this summer and will try to avoid the many problems that hampered it in 2021. It remains to be seen if they can do that, as some areas are performing worse this year. 

Before the pandemic in 2019, U.S. airlines only had cancellations on just over 1% of their flights. However, over the recent Memorial Day weekend, the same airlines canceled almost 3% of their total flights, which is more than the last three years combined on the same holiday.

Probably the biggest challenge for the airline industry is the ongoing labor shortage. They have significantly fewer employees than before the pandemic and have been forced to cut flights while travelers are returning to the air after more than two years. 

The U.S. is also amid its most significant pilot shortage in recent history. During the height of the pandemic, airlines decided to cut costs by offering their pilots early retirement. The problem worsened by the slowdown in pilot training and hiring.

To combat this crisis, some airlines are considering reducing the credentials needed for potential pilots by lowering flight-hour requirements and adjusting training programs to lower the hurdles for entry. For example, Delta Airlines recently joined with other major carriers by no longer requiring a four-year degree to hire pilots. There could also be a future increase in the retirement age to keep more pilots employed for longer. 

What Travelers Can Do Adapt

Most experts agree that to help navigate during this hectic season, travelers should first learn to be flexible with their budgets and their time. Due to the unpredictable nature of travel today, it’s a good idea to purchase refundable flights and buy travel insurance if possible. Travelers must also be prepared to change their plans at a moment’s notice and open more options if they experience delays or cancellations.   

Although COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in many countries worldwide, travelers need to look at the possibility of being exposed to the virus while on vacation. Masks are no longer required on domestic flights, and many public places and events may not require them either. 

Also, individuals and families need to keep using safe practices such as social distancing and avoiding large crowds. It’s also recommended that all travelers be tested for the virus before heading to their destination, no matter their vaccination status. 

People around the world have been waiting for the chance to finally travel somewhere for the first time in a couple of years and are excited about the opportunity to take a vacation. However, those looking for a perfect summer trip may be disappointed in their experience this year. 

With the expected long lines and unpredictability in all aspects of the hospitality industry, travelers should remember things aren’t the way they were the last time they took a vacation. As long as expectations aren’t too high, everyone should be able to enjoy their summer travel during this time of uncertainty.  

Published by HOLR Magazine.