When the world was put on lockdown, the airline industry took a major hit on all sides.
This week, I was supposed to travel back home to Los Angeles for a story. It was supposed to be a “familiarization” trip highlighting one of the many cities in Southern California that would serve as either a hub for activities or a destination unto itself for travelers.
Unfortunately, I had to postpone the trip. If I mentioned it before, I was hospitalized the week after working at the Chicago Auto Show due to multiple health issues. Considering the recovery period, this trip had to be pushed back.
Don’t worry, this trip is still on. And, I will be delivering on content for it.
The topic of air travel has been quite the challenge for the past three years. When the world was put on lockdown, the airline industry took a major hit on all sides. With virtually no one flying anywhere, jobs were lost in the industry. It also created a ripple effect across all travel-related businesses.
Just like the pandemic itself, the travel industry took ride on an inebriated rollercoaster. It would be safe to say that the notion of “normal” never took hold in the way everyone wanted.
Through these years, I touched upon the wave of “revenge travel.” The term where travelers were eager to get that dream vacation out of the way, because plans were shelved due to the restrictions imposed upon travelers due to some variant of the virus. You can also add the many effects that the pandemic created on the travel industry that saw rental car fleets reduced, only to dive into the used car market to meet a soaring demand. Plus, the challenges airlines and airports had as demand also jumped, while flights and personnel could not meet it last summer.
Should I also add all of the crazy instances of in-flight violence that has been amplified since the imposition of masks on flights in light of the pandemic?
Normalcy could have been achieved by the last holiday travel season. That was until Southwest Airlines had their computer system go south, cancelling almost every flight in the process.
Somehow, I got lucky during the pandemic. I flew twice on business since March 2020 – one to the Los Angeles Auto Show, the other to the Nissan Z media drive in Las Vegas. For the most part, everything went according to plan. Overall, one flight was delayed.
Yet, we all experienced the surge in the cost of flights, rental cars, hotels, dining, and fuel. The pandemic did a number on our economy by a surge in the rate of inflation. Three years on, the deals we once enjoyed towards making travel an affordable pleasure have simply vanished.
A recent video by YouTube channel Simply Aviation had one of its hosts, David, interview several airline industry executives at the CAPA – Centre for Aviation Airline Leader Summit to get a sense of what 2023 will look like for travel. It was a mix of opinions ranging from concerns about the air traffic control system to hoping for return to full capacity in meeting customer demand. However, they have brought up the price in fuel. As with automobiles, fuel for airliners rose creating a challenge to their bottom line.
Certainly, we could possibly experience the same challenges that marked the past few years. Yet, there is a sense that things will improve this year. Then again, how many times have we heard that before?
Perhaps an indicator of a glimpse of hope came this week with the return of travelers to my local airport – Minneapolis-St. Paul International. According to the local television news, MSP officials were seeing passengers returning to the airport during Spring Break. They projected those passengers returning in numbers harkening back to pre-pandemic levels.
Like you, I am looking forward to flying in 2023. Not just back to Los Angeles for that story, but to find ways to take advantage of the flight credits and frequent flier miles across three airlines. Of course, that would depend on my health situation when those opportunities arise.
If you are traveling again, I hope you do so safely. Enjoy the adventure!
All photos by Randy Stern