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Who would want shares in an airline with all the problems they face, especially in the USA?
Adrian Leopard 405

Who would want shares in an airline with all the problems they face, especially in the USA?

Poor airlines but what about poor airline customers? Now flying is happening again, take care to protect yourself as best you can against the vagaries of the industry

Traditionally probably we do not have sympathy with airlines; they somehow usually manage to fall on their feet and generally at the expense of the flying public.


Well one can only imagine how difficult it has been to keep afloat during the pandemic when flying became something of a rarity, certainly for the travelling public.


Aeroplanes are like cruise ships – they only make money when they are flying in the air, like cruise ships only make money when they have passengers enjoying their trips on the water.


And when aeroplanes are not in the air, someone still has to pay for their huge capital costs, often leasing charges, as well as keep them maintained so that they can be brought back into service without delay when the great day of freedom returns.


But that is just a part of the story. Airlines, especially in America, had to do something about their staff. What did they do? In many cases they encouraged them to take early retirement or leave of absence, including buy-out schemes. Then there were those who were laid off and put on furlough. Unfortunately, they cannot just “step back into the job”. They have to undergo a certain amount of training. Pilots, for example, have to have regular test renewal flights to ensure they are remaining current – you wouldn’t want to fly with someone who had not taken off for twelve months! And all of those retraining flights together – they have to staff them.


So the airlines did what they could and that was all very well and good but now they have staffing difficulties. What is more is that President Biden has ordered a federal vaccine mandate so that companies with more than 100 employees have to have all their employees vaccinated or in some circumstances, regularly tested but this is not going down very well. What is more is that the testing option is not an option for federal employees – it’s vaccination or out!


It will be interesting to see what the position is when the vaccination deadlines have passed.


Why does this affect the situation? Well of course it is all down to schedules. Now that the pandemic is in its current phase, there has been a surge in air travel again and the poor airlines have not got the staff to be able to keep up with the demand.


Sad – isn’t it?


And then with Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year all coming upon us, it is very likely that the demand will get still greater.


And passengers are having to remember to complete the appropriate documentation to be able to travel post-pandemic. Oh dear – if they forget or it is not in order, their fight leaves without them. Then they have to probably get a hotel to stay overnight and pay for a new flight the following day – all extra money to be found with the commensurate inconveniencies.


Many of the reasons for delays are beyond anyone’s control – certainly weather can play havoc with schedules. But for passengers there are some mitigations they can try to reduce the chances of getting stuck. Try these:


1   Make absolutely sure you are aware of the documentation you will require for every landing in your schedule, including where it is merely a short stop-over or fuelling stop. Get it completed well in advance.


2   Make sure you have all your mandatory tests lined up and get the correct one too.


3   Try and choose routes which are direct if you can so as to avoid problems which you probably could not have foreseen. The trouble is that delays and cancellations have a domino effect so the less chance of that, the better.


4   Think about flying first thing in the morning as there is less likelihood over aircraft developing a fault and ensure you have travel insurance or a credit card with cover.


5   Make sure you allow yourself ample time to get to the airport in case of queues and general delays.


6   Make sure you have acquainted yourself with the airline’s cancellation policies and what compensation is available, like hotels etc and that you are comfortable with those if they come about.


By taking these general precautions, hopefully you will help yourself when it comes to that great cat and mouse game that airlines like to play.


Adrian Leopard     14-10-21


Photo Marco Tjokro

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