Here is what to expect for summer travel in 2023.
Keep an Eye on Strikes in Europe
Strikes by pilots and airport employees in France, the United Kingdom, and Germany have already caused a lot of cancellations for travelers throughout Europe. There is already a threat of more "walkouts" during what is expected to be a busy summer travel season. If you're traveling to Europe this summer, be sure to keep an eye on any relevant strike or walk out news and pack some flexibility just in case.
Air Traffic Controller Shortage
While a lot of attention has been paid to the pilot shortage, the air traffic controller shortage could cause even more headaches. According to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, only 54% of air traffic control positions in the New York City area are currently filled. If you get a bad afternoon of thunderstorms, this could cause some major headaches as there may not be enough controllers to get the influx of planes in and out of the region. When so much of the country's air traffic goes through New York, it could cause a ripple effect throughout the country.
TSA Ramping Up the Hiring Process Amidst Shortage
The airlines aren't the only ones facing staffing shortages. TSA is hoping to avoid long backups at airports this summer through a recruitment drive that includes signing bonuses and pay raises that kick in on July 1. You'll want to arrive at least two hours early and perhaps earlier at major airports. There is still time to sign up for TSA PreCheck , which TSA says generally has lines that are five minutes or less at most airports.
Increased Seat Capacity Brings Some Good News
While the number of flights have increased only slightly on the airlines’ schedules from last year to this year, the number of seats have gone up nine percent. This ultimately means airlines are swapping out smaller planes for bigger ones to be able to adequately meet the high demand. This will allow airlines to meet passenger demand while not necessarily adding more flights to a system that's just about maxed out. Airlines are also more prepared as they have hired more staff, including 4,500 employees in March.
Expect to Pay a Lot for International Flights
According to the travel planning site Hopper, international flight prices are up 35 percent, and tickets to Europe and Asia are at the highest prices they have been in five years, Luckily, domestic flight prices are down 19 percent from last year. Hotel prices are also up, while rental car prices are a bit back to normal as the rental car shortage has subsided.
Check Your Passport's Expiration Date
If you're traveling internationally this summer, make a point to double check your passport's expiration date. You typically need at least six months of validity when traveling, so be sure your passport is valid for a while. If you need to renew start the process early—here is a major backlog of passport renewals and it can take upwards of 11 weeks for standard processing.
Know Your Rights
The Department of Transportation has become a lot more transparent with regard to passenger rights over the last few years. The DOT has a page on their site detailing passenger rights when flying.
The Bottom Line
While we don't look like we are headed for a repeat of last summer’s travel chaos, it never hurts to make your plans with a little flexibility. It may be helpful to arrive a day early and try to take the earlier flights in the morning, as those are less likely to face built up delays.