Flights can be expensive, confusing, frustrating, and exhausting all at once. From finding a flight to book to navigating the airport to boarding the plane, to FINALLY arriving at your destination and finding your luggage at baggage claim — it’s a big deal that consumes a lot of time and money.
Since the pandemic, flights have grown even more frustrating and expensive for many, with travel mandates, increased ticket prices, and limited airline and airport staff. One of the worst situations to date was Southwest’s cancelation of thousands of flights in December 2022, which they ultimately admitted was due to a lack of staffing and resources that led to unpreparedness in winter weather. But now, another huge problem may be coming soon.
Unrelated to pandemic-related travel mandates and winter weather, the airline industry is facing another huge problem — one that could result in more expensive airfare and limited booking options for passengers. According to CNN, the Regional Airline Association (RAA) told Congress that the airline industry would soon be hit with a “tsunami of pilot retirements,” resulting in a deeper pilot shortage nationwide, which will limit flight availability and therefore increase fares.
RAA President and CEO Faye Malarkey Black stated that the “severe and ongoing pilot shortage” has resulted in a “collapse in air service.” According to CNN, more than half the pilots working today will hit the mandatory retirement age of 65 within the next 15 years. Meanwhile, there aren’t enough younger pilots entering the industry to make up for the loss.
Currently, more than 500 planes are sitting idle, those that do fly are used 40% less than in the past, and 42 states have less airline service now than before the pandemic. 136 airports have lost a quarter of their service, and some airlines have cut off flights from 11 airports in cities that connect to larger hubs for these airlines.
When it comes down to why young people aren’t as likely to become pilots, Black said that nowadays, the cost of pilot training can be as expensive as $80,000 and can even reach $200,000 if combined with the cost of attaining a bachelor’s degree. Further, there aren’t as many financial aid options available to young pilots the same way they’re available to graduate professionals entering the law, medical, and other service fields.
The result of this dilemma is fewer pilots, fewer planes, and less money in travelers’ wallets. We’ll continue to watch for more updates on this situation and let you know about upcoming changes.
Here at DFB, we talk a lot about the magic of the Disney parks, but we also like to present our readers with real issues they could face while traveling — whether it be to the parks or not. Follow along for more travel news, tips, and even the occasional flight discount. Speaking of discounts, click the link below to check out some ways your next flight could be easier.
Looking for flights to Disney World? New nonstop flights were just added to the Orlando airport!