Skip to content

EVERYTHING KING: Turbulence begins long before takeoff

Why does it seem every air carrier is in a mess? Nobody had a strategy for when travelling resumed? asks frustrated columnist
Stock image

Have you travelled this summer?

Perhaps, the more accurate question is have you attempted to travel this year? On an airplane?

There's turbulence — and even before you board the plane.

I am going to hazard a guess that if you did, you are still either in an endless line snaking to the check-in counter, or you are finally back home with a giant migraine.

Just the pictures of the state of airports all over the world have prevented me from booking a trip that’s been planned for three years. I just can’t bring myself to book anything with the state of things in the airline industry.

According to the founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights newsletter, Scott Keyes says the turmoil is unlike anything seen ever in travel.

“The 9/11 attacks caused a seven per cent drop in overall travel  2020 travel (COVID) was down 70 per cent. Airlines were worried about surviving. That meant laying off staff, shedding pilots, selling airplanes, and retiring aircraft," he says. 

So now, as recreational travel has rebounded, airlines are not prepared. While I understand we had not experienced anything similar to the pandemic before and all businesses had to pivot, I don’t understand why there was no Plan B.

Why does it seem every air carrier is in a mess? Nobody had a strategy for when travelling resumed?

Obviously, I do not work in that industry, but I cannot for the life of me figure out why nobody knows before the very last minute if a flight is going to be cancelled.

In just the past week, I have spoken with friends who stood in line for five hours to get to the counter only to be told the flight was cancelled, come back tomorrow.

I don’t understand how that happens. One friend was literally stranded at an airport in Europe, first because of cancellations and then because while there her purse and passport were stolen. Three days in an airport with no money and no identification. Think The Terminal with Tom Hanks, where his character spent 18 years in a terminal lounge.

Do they not figure out each day how many flights are booked and therefore know how many planes, baggage handlers, maintenance people, flight crews will be required? I am sincerely asking. I don’t know the way it works or, in this case, how it doesn’t work.

If companies laid off thousands of employees, can’t they just hire them back? I understand some will not return and there will be some extra time needed for training, but surely there should not be such a shortage of workers.

Have you seen the pictures of thousands of suitcases just lined up? Nobody sorting them. No security. What happened to never let your suitcase out of your sight in case someone plants drugs or explosives in it?

I have some basic questions about all this:

  1.  If you are travelling solo and are in line, can you get out to go to the bathroom? Will strangers save your spot?
  2.  How many Depends are too many?
  3.  Are there any chairs? Who can stand in line for hours on end?
  4.  What if my carry-on is too small for the pain meds I will need to get me to the gate?
  5.  If hundreds of people are crammed into a small area, doesn’t the chance of COVID infection go way up?

At this point, I guess the only question that matters is: “Is the trip necessary and/or worth it?”

Experts say things should be a bit more settled after Labour Day when recreational travel subsides. However, if new COVID variants take hold, all bets are off.

In the meantime, brace for impact!

Reader Feedback

About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
Read more