Many travelers are taking to the skies for Thanksgiving this year and taking into account a number of factors that may impact their travel plans.
One of those factors is the volume of passengers. According to TSA, the agency screened nearly 2.3 million passengers in U.S. airports on Monday, Nov. 21 – over 11,000 more than the number screened on the same day during pre-pandemic times in 2019.
While the number of passengers has exceeded pre-pandemic levels, the number of pilots and airline staff available to assist them has fallen short.
According to pilot and meteorologist J.P. Dice, these staffing shortages have been an ongoing issue in the industry that was then exacerbated by the pandemic shutting down many operations. The industry has struggled to bounce back since.
"The travel demand is really, really high, and we're really falling below what we need to be in the staffing levels with airlines," Dice said.
He noted that incentives had been put in place to entice newcomers to become pilots, but since the amount of training necessary can take years, it may take additional time to make a dent in the current pilot shortage.
Another factor for passengers to consider is the weather. Dice noted the importance of checking the weather across the country to see if certain systems are moving through airline hubs on a passenger’s itinerary.
While thunderstorms may be moving through Dallas Love Field (DFW) in Texas this week, Dice believes passengers traveling for Thanksgiving can rest assured.
"Overall, I don't see any weather makers there that's going to throw a wrench in the travel operations across the country," he said.