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How Tumultuous Will the Summer Travel Season Be?

What’s that old saying about being careful what you wish for?

Airline officials, hoteliers, car rental executives, restaurant owners and anyone even remotely associated with the travel and tourism industry are hoping for – and predicting – a huge summer travel season.


They all believe the quantity and pent-up demand of tourists will rival that of pre-pandemic years.

The problem is, many experts believe this could be one of the most tumultuous summers for travel ever.

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While demand is expected to be up, so are airfares, gas prices, potentially room rates, car rental rates – and all the while a staffing shortage continues to plague many businesses.

“The summer will be chaos,” consumer advocate Christopher Elliott told CNN. Airlines, he said, especially need to start owning up to the fact that they misjudged the staffing issue during the pandemic in order to save more money on top of the billions in government loans and grants they accepted.

“It’s everyone’s fault except their own. If they took a good look in the mirror they’d realize that during the pandemic they downsized and laid staff off, and now demand has come surging back and they’re caught off guard,” Elliott said “They haven’t been able to staff up fast enough to meet demand.”

And it’s not any better overseas.

British Airways, for example, has begun scaling back loading and unloading luggage on short-haul flights to put more of an emphasis on on-time arrivals and long-haul flights. Due to short staffing, bags on BA flights often sit in the belly of a plane for hours on end. Now the airline is telling passengers it will send their luggage along within days after they physically arrive at their destination.

Courtney Miller, managing director of analysis at The Air Current, told CNN that it’s not the price of oil that’s driving up fares, either.

“Things are great — too great — and we’re struggling,” he said.
“We’re seeing mass cancelations again, and airlines are reducing schedules. Fares are through the roof, and people like to talk about [the price of] oil but that’s not why. The problem is we have more people wanting to fly than we have seats.”

But gas prices could be an issue for automobile travel and, by extension, car rentals. According to ABC News, gas is averaging $4.08 per gallon in the U.S. Gas prices seem to be steadying, even getting lower in some places.

But if they rise again, AAA says the tipping point seems to be $5 a gallon. In a recent survey, AAA found that 75 percent of respondents said $5 a gallon gas could alter their plans to travel this summer.

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