Staff shortages have caused longer lines at airports
AAA urges air travelers to be patient and prepared as millions of Americans return to the airport for summer trips. Demand has steadily climbed in recent months, as the world reopens to travelers. However, the increased demand, weather issues, and staff shortages have resulted in longer security lines and in some cases, altered itineraries and cancelled flights.
“We are witnessing a resurgence in air travel, and the industry is working to keep pace with the soaring demand,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Airlines are restoring staff and adding routes, both of which were reduced during the pandemic. Travelers should monitor their flight status for any changes leading up to their trip, with airline apps being an easy way to stay informed. You should also arrive at the airport 2-3 hours before your flight, to ensure you to get to your gate on time. AAA Travel Advisors can help you plan your vacation in a way that reduces stress by choosing itineraries that include airport transfers, reduced flight connections and even travel insurance that offers compensation for flight delays.”
Sunday, the TSA reportedly screened more than 2.1 million air travelers – the most since the pandemic was declared in March 2020. So far this month, air passenger counts averaged nearly 1.9 million passengers per day. While that average is 32% lower than June 2019 (2,566,092), it’s on pace for a 145% increase from January 2021.
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AAA offers the following tips for passengers:
- Book early for more options (seat and flight inventory).
- Enroll in TSA PreCheck to get the most convenient experience with the least amount of physical contact in screening. There’s no need for screening bins, shoes/belts stay on, and laptops/liquids/food remain in the carry-on. In March 2021, 98% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than 5 minutes.
- Consider flight travel insurance, but read the fine print to understand what it covers.
- Know your rights as an air passenger and review your airline’s contract of carriage for information on their policies for flight delays, cancellations and rebooking. If the airlines change the flight, you may be entitled to a full refund.
- Book your trip with a knowledgeable travel agent. They’ll serve as your advocate in case your flight is delayed or canceled, and can help with any last-minute travel plans.
- Check your airline’s website or download their app to keep up-to-date on your flight status, including one last time right before you leave for the airport. Check these options before calling their customer service number, which may result in a long wait time.
“Potential inconveniences associated with air travel are worth it for those interested in traveling internationally,” Haas continued. “Popular destinations like Rome, Paris and Venice are far less crowded now than they likely will be in the future. River cruises, ocean cruises and guided tours are typically operating with fewer guests, so you’ll have a more intimate experience. Plus, many excellent values are being offered on travel in 2021 as new itineraries become available nearly daily.”
AAA reminds travelers that countries in Europe and around the world each have their own COVID-19-related protocols for incoming travelers. That’s why AAA urges travelers to seek the advice of a travel advisor who can help you navigate the evolving requirements as you plan and prepare to travel.
AAA travel advisors have begun using a new virtual tool, which enables them to check the travel status of any destination in the world, with just the click of a button. That includes timely information regarding a destination’s:
- Travel restrictions
- Vaccine or COVID-19 test requirements
- Quarantine policies
- Mask mandates
- Any health documents you may need before or during your trip
Importance of Travel Insurance
Whatever your plans, AAA encourages you to consider travel insurance to protect your wallet and health before and during your trip. AAA partners with Allianz to offer policies tailored to traveler preferences. Coverage can include reimbursement for delayed flights and bags, and missed cruise port of call. AAA Travel Advisors can help you choose the policy that best fits your needs, so you can relax and enjoy your vacation. If there’s anything the pandemic has taught us, it’s that you have to be prepared for the unexpected.
About AAA - The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 14 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 62 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.