Flying home for the vacations?
With the Thanksgiving and holiday break period appropriate around the corner, you may be preparing to go to family and friends—perhaps it will be your to start with vacation to the airport because the pandemic started in 2020.
Today’s WatchBlog publish appears to be like at our modern reports on the pandemic’s continued result on air journey, as nicely as what passengers need to know about their rights as shoppers must trips not go as planned.
How could last year’s travel developments impact you this getaway year?
The aviation industry—which contains airlines and airports, as perfectly as all the other businesses you see (like dining places and shops) and really do not see (airplane restore stations) at the airport—is even now recovering from the consequences of COVID-19.
We reported a short while ago that at its most affordable point, domestic passenger vacation was down 96% in April 2020 when in comparison to amounts the earlier yr. And it remained down all over 2020 (down about 60% in comparison to site visitors stages in 2019).
Congress and the aviation field took a selection of steps in reaction to this downturn. For instance, approximately $100 billion in many varieties of federal relief funding was presented to enable the field offset financial disruptions. Market stakeholders we spoke with informed us this authorized them to maintain employees used, carry on flight operations that in any other case may possibly have ceased, and stay away from personal bankruptcy. At the identical time, the industry took actions to slice expenses by offering voluntary early retirement to some workers, voluntary unpaid leave, and freezing nonessential hiring—among other techniques. In some cases, airlines also minimized flight frequencies and the amount of airports served.
Find out far more about the aviation industry’s attempts to answer to the pandemic by listening to our new podcast with GAO’s Heather Krause, an aviation business specialist.
However, now that air vacation is trending upward, people very same actions—such as minimizing labor prices, as properly as other factors—have affected some airlines’ capacity to meet up with returning demand. For case in point, in the course of the to start with 7 days of August, Spirit Airlines canceled about 60% of its flights on consecutive days as a result of staffing shortages, terrible weather conditions, and engineering problems. Southwest Airways and American Airlines have also a short while ago faced comparable broad-unfold cancellations.
In our operate, we are locating that the airlines will most likely continue on to wrestle with the often extraordinary improvements in demand from customers caused by the pandemic. As we enter what is expected to be a busy holiday year, the marketplace is attempting to handle troubles by employing extra staff and adjusting their operations.
Know your rights before you fly
Before you head to the airport, you ought to know your legal rights as a buyer. For illustration, a passenger is entitled to a refund if the airline cancels a flight, no matter of the cause. The Section of Transportation (DOT) delivers information on aviation consumer protections on its site. This involves information and facts on how to how to file a criticism.
In 2019 and 2020, we reported about efforts taken by DOT to enforce regulations and restrictions made to defend buyers. Shopper advocates, airways, and some others had elevated worries about how DOT enforces aviation-relevant consumer protection regulations and regulations.
We uncovered that whilst DOT conducts actions to keep track of airline compliance—such as examining passenger criticism facts and using enforcement action when it identifies airline and vacation agent violations—it could improve its treatments and the transparency in its determination generating method. Using this kind of actions would far better defend vacationers and give DOT better assurance that airways are complying with federal consumer laws.
Hopefully, your holiday vacation working experience is clean. But if anything does go wrong, discover your rights as an aviation buyer.