Airport Mayhem: COVID Ain’t Finished with Us Yet

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I’m not sure whether there’s more pandemonium about it on the media or in the airports, but what happened to air travel this weekend was pretty predictable, and I’m sure there’s more to come.

Factors Affecting the Situation:


Unemployment rates are low. Workers are working. Workers have discovered that perhaps working at the airport isn’t such a great job after all. So, airlines and airports can’t staff their operations


Airlines took a big hit during the epidemic. Now that everyone wants their services again, they got greedy. Their nasty habit of overbooking flights during normal travel volumes has come back to bite them. Their cash flow is doing fine right now. Passenger flow: not so good.


Canada Day on Friday and Independence Day on Monday. What did you expect? They say COVID has reduced people’s ability to think. I think it also reduced their ability to calculate risk. Anybody who flew on Thursday before or Tuesday after this weekend should have realized they were taking a risk. When you take a risk, sometimes things don’t work out. “Why me?” is a pretty lame response.

Who is at Fault?

The other guy, of course. The airlines, the airports, Canadian Border Services, Immigration Services, you name it; they’re all blaming somebody else. About the best we can hope for is that everybody complains so much they fix a bit of it.

What to Do About It?

Pick your times and dates carefully, take less luggage and get there ahead of time. Do your share to keep the lines moving. Screen your own hand luggage when you pack. Have the proper paperwork and have it handy. On an April trip to Europe, Linda and I had forty pages of documentation. Each of us had a hard copy version and a version scanned on our cell phone (and we knew exactly where on the cell phone). I had a copy on my laptop. Of course, we only ended up needing about five of them, but we were prepared, and everything went smoothly. We had booked too short a turnaround time in Paris, so our luggage missed the flight. Our own fault.

Listen Closely to News Reports

Media are there to attract your attention. When they say that 2000 flights were cancelled on a given day, we picture 400,000 people getting to the gate and being told they had no plane. It turns out it wasn’t exactly like that. Most of those flights were cancelled long before they were even announced. The “2000 flights cancelled” was the difference between that day and the same day in 2019. Unrelated to what’s going on, but it makes great click bait.

The Bottom Line: Get Used to It

Airline travel isn’t what it used to be, and it isn’t going to get a whole lot better in the near future. You think it’s bad now. Wait until we get into full-scale carbon reduction. Zeppelins, anyone?

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