Flying has been fraught with challenges in recent years, ranging from staff shortages and strikes to the dreaded flight cancellations.
And when it comes to flight cancellations specifically, 2022 was a daunting year for travelers. New data from Digitrips reveals that cancellations, as well as schedule changes, took place much closer to a flight’s departure time than they had in previous years.
A report in Breaking Travel News says that Digitrips, which owns the online travel agency MisterFly, found that airlines gave travelers an average of 39 days’ notice of changes or cancellations in 2022. That’s a significant change from the 54 days average notice for 2019.
“Our figures from MisterFly revealed that the proportion of our travelers who experienced flight cancellations or changes prior to their departure date remained significantly higher in 2022 than pre-Covid—with 40 percent of our travelers affected, compared to 25 percent in 2019,” Emilie Dumont, managing director of Digitrips, said, according to Breaking Travel News.
The future for air travelers doesn’t look entirely rosy either, according to Dumont. She predicted that given all the issues impacting the industry at the moment, cancellations will continue to be routine. “This year is likely to be even busier and, with staff shortages and strikes continuing to cause disruption worldwide, we expect the cancellations winds to shrink even further,” Dumont said.
To help rectify this issue, Dumont said the travel industry must act quickly to adopt technology that would help reduce the impact of such disruptions.
“This could include implementing automated rebooking and refund tools, or even AI-powered customer service systems,” said Dumont.
Europe in particular is expected to be widely impacted by worker strikes this spring and summer. Just a few weeks ago, flights to and from airports across Germany were canceled amid a union worker strike. That strike impacted seven airports, including three of the country’s top airports—Frankfurt, Munich, and Hamburg. At least 300,000 passengers were impacted in that case and airlines canceled thousands of flights.
Spain, France, and the United Kingdom are all anticipating worker strikes in the coming months as well. In Spain, for instance, labor unions are expected to continue holding 24-hour walk-outs on and off through at least April 13, according to news reports. These labor actions are expected to take place every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.
Meanwhile, in France, union workers have been holding strikes in response to changes in the country’s retirement laws, which increased the retirement age from 62 to 64. The battle over that issue has led to strikes of both railroad and airport workers. Recently, 30 percent of flights from Paris’s Orly airport were canceled.
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