Travel Has Rebounded But Airports Can’t Handle It, Here’s Why

By Kristi Eckert | 1 month ago

airport crowding

The vast majority of Covid-19 restrictions imposed upon the United States have begun to ease. As a result, many restless folks tired of being tied to their home locale have decided to take to the skies and resume travel once again. One would think that would be great news for the airline industry. Especially given the immense hardships the whole industry had to endure subsequent to the onset of the pandemic. However, the airline industry is in no way prepared to handle the surge in fliers. Airport crowding is worse than ever and, according to Wired, the situation is poised to become even more dire with the arrival of summer. 

Airport crowding has become a major issue for the airline industry. This became particularly evident after the vast majority of airports had trouble fielding the influx of passengers traveling for spring break. The fact that airports essentially failed to handle a surge in travelers during the spring break holiday served as a foreboding foreshadowing of what’s to come. If airports could not adequately handle crowds during that period they surely are not equipped to handle the number of people scheduled to travel during peak summer months. 

There are numerous factors contributing to the growing airport crowding issue. Many of those reasons can be attributed to both the state of the economy and the labor market. The airline industry as a whole has been dealing with sustaining workforce shortages ever since travel resumed in any sort of measurable capacity. This was not only due to the fact that many airline workers had quit, but because the ones who hadn’t frequently had gotten sick from Covid and had to remain out of work. Additionally, prior to the pandemic, the airlines were already struggling to fill empty pilot roles. Now, the situation is much worse and the number of working pilots remains staggeringly low. Thus, the overall lack of workers combined with the sudden sharp increase in travel creates the ideal combination for airport crowding to occur. 

Further fueling the increase in travelers that is leading to widespread airport crowding is the impact inflation and other global caveats are having on gas prices. AAA is predicting that gas prices could hit an unprecedented national average of $6 per gallon during the summertime. Some individual states, like California, have already crossed the $6 threshold. As a result, Wired highlighted that many travelers who would have elected to drive are forgoing that option in favor of flying in hopes of saving money. Conclusively, gas prices are exacerbating an already bad situation. 

Ultimately, as summer approaches, airport crowding will inevitably worsen. And, unfortunately, the airport situation will likely stay as it is into the foreseeable future. The airport industry is trying its best to handle the transition back to a somewhat normal flow of travel, but as of now, they are ill-equipped to do so. Until the gaps in the airline industry’s workforce are better filled and economic stressors have been alleviated crowding at airports will simply be the current reality that weary travelers will have to contend with. The best that travelers can do at present is to mentally prepare themselves for the unavoidable.