4 Travel Tips To Combat The Pilot Shortage

If traveling the world is on your bucket list, then you might only have 15 years left to reach that goal. According to CNN, seasoned pilots will be retiring from their roles by 2038, which could mean big changes for the airline industry and how we travel.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, countries closed their borders and international travel came to an abrupt stop. As a result, tens of thousands of pilots were furloughed or offered early retirement. When the COVID-19 vaccine was introduced, international restrictions were slowly lifted, and by summer 2021, travel was more or less back — but the damage was already done.


“The pilot shortage has resulted in a collapse in air service,” says Faye Malarkey Black, president and CEO of the Regional Airline Association, while management consulting firm Oliver Wyman told CNBC that the industry is short about 8,000 pilots. This led to nearly one million delayed or canceled flights between May and September of last year.

“42 states have less airline service now than before the pandemic, 136 airports have lost at least a quarter of their service, and airlines have completely cut off flights to 11 airports in smaller cities that connect to larger hubs,” says Black.

The future of travel is unclear, but all hope is not lost! Carriers are moving more of their early training programs in-house, such as the Ascend Pilot Academy, which Alaska Airlines launched earlier this year, and Aviatewith United Airlines.

One specific flight attendant from American Airlines, who prefers to remain anonymous, shares some advice for planning a seamless summer vacation — despite the pilot shortage.

1. If you can afford TSA precheck and clear this summer, purchase it.

two suitcases standing beside each other

Image via B+C

Flights are usually oversold across all airlines, especially during the summer. Avoid missing any of your flights — and having to be rerouted — as best you can. “This is the first ‘free travel’ summer after COVID. Things will be crazy,” they say.

2. Avoid tight connections.

With the pilot shortage, flight crews are already running on empty. If your flight has a crew that goes into over-time and has to wait for a new crew to be assigned to your flight, they say there will most likely be a delay: “Save the stress and make sure you give yourself at least an hour and a half minimum between connecting flights.”

3. Drive if you can.

“If you’re traveling in the states this summer, make a road trip out of it, especially if you’re a nervous flyer or have never taken a road trip!” they share. “Again, this is the first ‘free’ summer after COVID — the airports will be insane! We predict we will have more flyers this summer than any summer pre-pandemic.”

4. If you do fly, be kind and extend grace to your flight crew.

plane flying in a clear blue sky

Image via Pixabay/Pexels

Both pilots and flight attendants are spending their summer making sure you get to your destinations safely, despite the changes in the aviation industry. “We do our best with the hands we are dealt daily. Kindness goes a long way,” they remind us.

Do you have any fun plans this summer? Let us know on Twitter which of these tips you’re going to consider when you book your next flight!