Staffing shortages cause holiday air travel woes

Staffing shortages affect holiday air travel
Published: May. 27, 2022 at 12:21 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - On this busy Memorial Day travel weekend, airline passengers are learning first-hand what can happen when an increase in demand meets an airline industry that’s still struggling to rebuild to full-scale operations after a years-long pandemic.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines announced Thursday it is cutting its flight schedule this weekend and through the summer travel season because of staffing issues.

Other airlines are also dealing with staffing shortages. So are airports themselves.

Frank Clark of Oklahoma tried to fly to Maine Thursday, but he hit a snag in Atlanta where he was supposed to catch a connecting flight.

“We had to wait ten minutes or so to get someone out there to get us off the plane,” Clark said.

That staffing issue caused him to miss his connecting flight, so he had to rebook for Friday morning.

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, though 90-percent of concessionaires are back open, having enough employees on hand at any given time is a challenge.

“We’ve been dealing with staffing issues obviously since the pandemic started,” said Andrew Gobeil, the airport’s director of communications.

Gobeil suggests that passengers arrive at the airport 2-2 ½ hours before their flights. Part of the reason for that, he said, is ongoing construction at parking decks.

“We want to remind everybody of ATL West. That’s the magic word. That’s our new parking deck which is just over on the other side of the street,” Gobeil said. “Park at ATL West. You can hop on the sky train. It brings you right here to the domestic terminal.”

For Eric Waller who’s traveling through Atlanta, the hassles are worth it.

“We were, like everyone, locked down for a long, long time,” he said, “and we just decided to get back out and try to see the world again.”

Hartsfield-Jackson is expecting roughly 2 million passengers to fly to, from, or through the airport this holiday weekend. That’s not quite pre-pandemic levels, but close.