Here’s why airlines are struggling to keep up with summer travel
Airlines are struggling to keep up with travel demands this summer. Here’s what passengers need to know.
Just the FAQs, USA TODAY
American Airlines is the latest carrier to announce cuts to its schedule – primarily from its Philadelphia hub – even as demand for flights continues to soar.
American, like many other airlines, downsized earlier in the pandemic and are now struggling to keep their operations running smoothly.
“American has taken steps to size our airline for the resources we have available and to build additional buffer into the remainder of our summer schedule. Last month, American took proactive steps to add resiliency into our schedule by reducing overall September system capacity by approximately 2%,” said a statement from the company. “These adjustments were made in markets with multiple frequencies—with the goal of moving customers to different flights.”
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According to American, it is cutting hundreds of flights at its Philadelphia hub in the coming months – roughly 3% of its schedule there in September, or around 7 flights per day, and 5% of its schedule there in October, or around 13 flights per day.
The airline said it would contact customers whose flights are affected about making alternative arrangements. Customers who choose not to travel under a new itinerary may be entitled to a refund.
Other airlines making cuts
American is hardly alone in having to reduce its flying this summer.
In June, United Airlines announced that it would cut 12% of its flights at Newark this summer, canceling about 50 departures daily starting July 1.
JetBlue also trimmed its schedule by about 10% this summer, and Delta undertook a “strategic reduction” in flying, canceling about 100 flights per day from July 1 through Aug. 7.
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American Airlines’ previously announced it would end service by its regional partners to four cities (Islip and Ithaca, New York; Toledo, Ohio and Dubuque, Iowa) in September, citing a shortage of available pilots.
European airports struggle as well
Travel woes aren’t limited to America’s skies this summer, either.
Long lines and canceled flights have confronted passengers across Europe, and major airports including Heathrow in London and Schiphol in Amsterdam announced caps on departing passengers through the summer. In fact, on Wednesday, Schiphol said it would extend those limits into October.
What passengers are entitled to when their flights are changed
Passengers whose flights are canceled are generally entitled to a refund in the U.S., but the policies are less clear when flights are delayed. The Department of Transportation technically requires airlines to compensate passengers who experience a “significant” delay, but has yet to define how long a delay has to be to qualify as significant.
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However, the department announced on Wednesday that it is seeking input from the public as it works to clarify the rules around airline compensation, and make it easier for passengers to make claims and receive refunds if their travel is disrupted.