Airlines haven’t taken a scissors to their respective fall schedules; they’ve taken a machete.
Domestic carriers have apparently seen enough this summer with the numerous delays and cancellations and are trying to balance their workload with a reduced staff and the correct number of flights. In many instances, that has meant eliminating routes from the fall schedules – as American Airlines did by cutting 31,000 flights in November alone.
But American isn’t the only carrier making those decisions.
Others have followed suit, and it’s going to force air travelers to juggle their schedules and make some decisions prior to the holidays.
United has cut flights. JetBlue has eliminated a modest number of fall flights. Delta asked for, and received, permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to reduce the number of flights into and out of the three major New York City airports to help alleviate congestion.
“The recent cuts appear to impact routes between smaller cities to hubs and in some cases less flights between major hubs,” Mike Arnot, an airline industry commentator and spokesman for the flight data service Cirium, told Travel+Leisure. “Does the airline really need 15 flights a day when 9 might do?”
Air travel in September and October is not believed to be impacted, but the all-important holiday season will be upon us shortly. The number of flights, and the airfare, will almost certainly be impacted.
“It means generally the flights that do fly this holiday season will be fuller, with less opportunities to upgrade, for example, and higher fares,” says Cirium’s Arnot.
In turn, limited capacity is akin to less demand, which means higher costs and a decreased chance to rebook a flight if you are delayed, canceled or, worse, bumped.
“As always, book early,” Arnot says. “The airlines will try hard to fly their schedules. They don’t make money cutting back for peak periods.”
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