The upcoming season is set to be the busiest we’ve seen since pre-pandemic travel. In the month of April, airlines continued preparing to meet rising demand, while big changes were made for COVID-19 mandates, and new budget airlines entered the picture.
Read on for the latest ‘Intel in the Air’ news roundup, where we keep our users informed on the industry’s latest happenings.
Travel is Back — Can Airlines Handle the Demand?
Despite inflation and rising fuel costs, more than 90% of U.S. travelers reported to have trips planned over the next six months. Airlines are looking forward to the surge in travel, especially after the financial losses of the last few years. United, Delta and American Airlines have all prepared strategies for avoiding glitches and have hired thousands of new employees to withstand the surge.
Alaska Airlines had to cut 2% of their flights due to a pilot protest surrounding contract negotiations that resulted in a training backlog. This caused hundreds of flight cancellations during the busy spring break season, leaving customers disappointed and frustrated with lengthy customer service wait times.
Mask Mandates Lifted
It has been a monumental month for air travel, as TSA officially stopped enforcing masks on planes. Airlines were quick to follow, with flight attendants on JetBlue even lifting the rule mid-air once the announcement was made. Masks are now optional in U.S. airports and on domestic flights, as well as select international flights depending on the destination country’s specific requirements.
The White House is considering appealing the decision to overturn the ban, which was initially put in place and extended until May 3. Americans are divided on whether masks should remain on public transportation according to a poll by KFF, with 51% agreeing that the requirement should expire. Meanwhile, leaders from Canada announced that the country has no plans to lift its nationwide air travel mask mandate as COVID-19 cases surge once again.
As travel demand and flight prices rise, travelers are on the lookout for flight deals and budget options. Play, a new Icelandic budget airline, debuted in the United States with its first transatlantic route from Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport to Iceland’s Keflavik Airport. Play announced plans to expand services to Boston, New York and Orlando in the coming months as well.