With mass cancellation of flights by U.S. airlines and long delays at terminals and on-field at European airports, the rising tide of travel seems poised to create a pandemic of traveler frustration.
Many of the delays and problems stem from lack of staff; many workers who were furloughed or took early retirement during the early days of the pandemic have not returned and replacements are not quickly available, especially for pilots. Airport ground staff is another major shortage area.
Hours-long lines to enter or transfer at European airports have begun to recede at some places, including Dublin, but in the past few days authorities have announced restrictions on flights from airports including Schiphol and Gatwick, specifically to reduce terminal crowding. In Portugal, all four of its international airports are now allowing North Americans to use its 'e-gates' for passport control to clear the terminal more quickly.
In the U.S., where terminals have not felt the burn in the same way, airlines have canceled flights day by day largely due to pilot shortages, especially at regional carriers whose pilots are also being recruited by mainline carriers. Transportation Secretary Buttegieg has called virtual conferences with airline heads to ask for solutions, including possibly reducing their ambitious schedules to what they can actually maintain.