Flying Will Be Messy This Year. See How Bad It Is Across the US


Flying in the United States this year is shaping up to be an exceptionally challenging experience for travelers. Several factors are converging to create what could be one of the messiest flight years on record.

Firstly, the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to affect airline operations, with staffing shortages still a significant issue for many carriers. Airlines are struggling to keep up with surging travel demand as they deal with pilots and crew members falling ill or being quarantined. This scenario often results in last-minute cancellations and delays.

Moreover, the airline industry is facing a dire pilot shortage. Training new pilots takes time, and with many senior aviators retiring or having taken early retirement packages during the height of the pandemic, there’s a gap in experience that’s difficult to fill quickly. Compounding this problem, regional airlines that typically feed major carriers with trained pilots are also affected by the shortage, gradually constricting the entire pipeline of incoming talent.

Next, weather-related disruptions continue to be an issue impacting flight punctuality. Severe weather events, which can cause widespread delays and cancellations, seem to be occurring more frequently. Climate change may be intensifying these events, further complicating flight schedules.

Air traffic control technology and infrastructure also play a part in this complicated web. Outdated systems are struggling to handle the volume of flights efficiently, leading to systemic delays even when other factors such as weather or staffing are not at play.

The increased incidents of unruly passengers have also put a strain on airline operations. These confrontations can cause diversions and delays, as well as put additional stress on already overstretched flight crews.

Finally, airports themselves are often operating at or above capacity. The infrastructures were not designed for the current volume of travelers, resulting in crowding and lengthy queues that can delay flights due to slow boarding processes and gate congestions.

As for how bad it is across different parts of the U.S., there’s significant regional variation in these issues. Major hubs like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles often see cascading effects from delays due to their interconnected nature with both domestic and international flights. Conversely, smaller regional airports may face fewer direct issues but still suffer from knock-on effects when larger hubs are disrupted.

All these elements combined paint a grim picture for air travel reliability this year. Passengers should brace themselves for potential inconveniences and plan their travels accordingly – packing extra patience alongside their carry-ons might be prudent advice for anyone flying in 2023.


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