As more and more Americans are getting vaccinated and flight restrictions around the world are lifting, the demand for both business and leisure travel is rapidly mounting — and airlines are scrambling to keep up. And there’s some bad news for some travelers, because American Airlines is canceling hundreds of flights through July, per CNN. So, good luck if you have to rebook your vaxication on such short notice.
It’s clear Americans are eager to travel again after essentially spending over a year under lockdown. But after cutting more than 40,000 jobs in October 2020 due to decreased travel during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, American Airlines is now struggling to keep up with booming travel demands in the United States. The airline announced over 120 flight cancellations on June 19 alone, and according to American Airlines spokesperson Shannon Gilson, the corporation expects to have 50 to 80 more cancellations each day until mid-July. It’s like the Hunger Games, but for flights (may the odds be ever in your favor). While the airline says it’s spreading out the cancellations as much as possible, they are expected to hit harder in Dallas-Fort Worth, where American Airlines has its hub.
Additionally, you can kiss those dirt-cheap pandemic flight prices goodbye: travel fares in summer 2021 are still on the rise. According to data collected by Hopper, a travel-booking app, U.S. domestic airfare is expected to increase by as much as 16% as the summer holidays inch closer. Furthermore, international travel costs are expected to rise by 12% this summer. So if you’re itching for a post-pandemic vaxication full of jet setting, you may want to start planning a little further ahead. Even a lot further ahead.
Per Gilson, the airline is doing everything it can to maintain service amid rapidly increasing travel demands and “unprecedented weather” at their busiest travel hubs. “That, combined with the labor shortages some of our vendors are contending with and the incredibly quick ramp up of customer demand, has led us to build in additional resilience and certainty to our operation by adjusting a fraction of our scheduled flying through mid-July,” she told CNN on June 20. According to Forbes, domestic flight bookings increased by as much as 400% in March 2021 alone.
The airline attributed the cancellations to labor shortages: At the end of September 2020, after the pandemic relief CARES Act expired, the company cut its workforce from over 140,000 employees to approximately 100,000. “It was assumed that by Sept. 30, the virus would be under control and demand for air travel would have returned,” CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom wrote in an Aug. 25, 2020 letter announcing the job cuts to employees. “That is obviously not the case,” they added.
Of course, the irony of the situation isn’t lost on Twitter users.
So, is your vaxication in jeopardy? If your flight has been canceled and your trip is before July 15, the airline will send you a notification (or you may have already received one), per CNN. The airline will give customers the opportunity to rebook via its app, according to ABC.
While the future of your travel plans may be unclear, one thing is certain: American Airlines will probably have to start hiring again soon.