Staffing is key to smooth air travel over the holiday period

Caroline Champlin Nov 22, 2021
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Air travel is expected to approach pre-pandemic levels this holiday season. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Staffing is key to smooth air travel over the holiday period

Caroline Champlin Nov 22, 2021
Heard on:
Air travel is expected to approach pre-pandemic levels this holiday season. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
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The TSA says Thanksgiving air travel this year is expected to be very close to pre-pandemic levels, but still some airlines and airports are dealing with staffing shortages.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Sunday after could be the busiest travel days, said Adit Damodaran, an economist with Hopper, a travel research firm.

“In particular, I think that Sunday is going to be one of the busiest travel days we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic,” he said.

And getting airport and airline staff ready to meet that kind of demand is tricky, said Madhu Unnikrishnan with Airline Weekly, because the industry is still short on people. 

“Hiring entry level airport and ground handling and baggage staff,” he said. “Just a scarcity of those people and they can’t process the flights on time.”

Airlines are having to compete with Amazon and Target for those workers, Unnikrishnan said.

And, short staffing exacerbates challenges created by any kind of disruptive weather event.

“If there’s not a reserve crew in place to take over that airplane is not going anywhere. So, so it staffing is huge,” Unnikrishnan said.

TSA says it expects to screen about 20 million passengers over the Thanksgiving holiday period.

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