With Memorial Day quickly approaching, so is the unofficial start of summer… For many Illinoisans, this upcoming summer will be the first time they’re planning vacation getaways since the start of the pandemic – and consequent travel restrictions were implemented – more than two years ago. Many restrictions have since been lifted, however, with Covid still very much present today, it has a continuing effect on aspects like airline, airport, and hospitality industry staffing shortages, alongside the increased demand for these kinds of travel services.
In airports across The Prairie State, the average price of a domestic flight ticket is $258.46, which, in fact, is lower than the national average of $327.13. After two years of restrictions, many have impatiently anticipated the moment they’re able to resume recreational travel activities – such as over summer vacation this year – and combined with more affordable flight costs, this upcoming season equates to the perfect opportunity.
However, it also means airports in Illinois are predicted to experience increased air traffic, as well as foot traffic from passengers passing through. A combination of these pandemic-related factors may lead to trip disruptions, delays, postponement, or even cancelations for travelers this upcoming season…
Rose Ackermann, Executive Editor at FamilyDestinationsGuide.com warns that the surge in passenger numbers following the easing of travel restrictions will have an impact on waiting times between checkpoints like check-in counters, security screening, and baggage collection. “While it is great news that travel has fully opened up and families can finally have proper vacations, the combination of increased demand and staff shortages have the potential to cause significant delays and an overall sub-par travel experience.”
The TSA reports air passenger traffic is expected to be more concentrated over peak periods, with volumes anticipated to match (and occasionally exceed) those in previous years for the first time since the pandemic began and travel restrictions were implemented. With an influx of passengers returning to modes of air travel, it may mean staff (which are already short in number) are overwhelmed with duties and passengers eager to get to their summer destinations. Airports Council International (ACL) released 2021 rankings of busiest airports across the world and the top 7 were all located in the U.S., with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport topping the charts in #1 place (75.7 million passengers in 2021, which was a 76% increase from 2020).
- Atlanta (ATL): 75.7 million passengers, a 76% increase from 2020
2. Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW): 62.5 million passengers, a 59% increase from 2020
3. Denver (DEN): 58.8 million passengers, a 74% increase from 2020
4. Chicago O’Hare (ORD): 54 million passengers, a 75% increase from 2020
5. Los Angeles (LAX): 48 million passengers, a 67% increase from 2020
6. Charlotte (CLT): 43.3 million passengers, a 59% increase from 2020
7. Orlando (MCO): 40.4 million passengers, an 87% increase from 2020
FamilyDestinationsGuide.com has compiled a list of tips for summer vacationers over the upcoming to help ease travel concerns they may have when moving through hubs during the pandemic:
- Aim for flights that depart early in the day
By doing this, if there is a potential last-minute flight cancellation, it may increase your chances of being rebooked on another flight the same day. This will also help reduce the risk of larger-scale impacts on the rest of your travel plans if things do happen to go awry.
- Anticipate delays and plan your time accordingly
Lengthier-than-usual waiting times at travel checkpoints and airline counters can emerge without warning, therefore, making sure you’re even earlier than being ‘on time’ can help reduce the severity of these delays on the rest of your plans. Anticipating these delays means you can add an extra few minutes between stops onto your itinerary and even if this additional time isn’t needed, you could always stop for a coffee or snack to make up for it.
- Review your travel insurance policy
In a time where travel can be unpredictable due to the changing pandemic landscape, it’s a good idea to look into the best possible travel insurance for you and your party. There is an abundance of different options to suit budgets and varying timelines; and taking out a travel insurance policy ahead of time can help minimize financial stress and further delays caused by potential flight, transport, or accommodation cancelations.
- Try exercise patience when dealing with airport and airline staff!
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of traveling, especially if it’s been a while since your last trip. Remember that many industries are still attempting to recover from the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic, so processes may be a little slower as compared to traveling in previous years before the virus was a concern.