Summer Special Report
August 27 to Sept. 2, 2022
Read all about the summer chaos! The summer flying rush is finally slowing, but U.S. daily volume is now close to or even higher than pre-pandemic levels. Lufthansa wipes out almost all of its schedule ahead of a pilot's strike. The DOT launches its Customer Service Dashboard--and it's much ado about very little. So are the modest changes that airlines have announced to their voluntary customer-service plans. Australia ends mask mandate for domestic flights next week. Global airline capacity is plunging as the slower fall season approaches. Finnair tries to replace some of its lost Asian and Russian route networks with nonstops to Doha from around the Nordic region. And more.

Summer Travel Update: Friday, Sept. 2, 2022

The CDC has approved booster shots developed by Pfizer and Moderna that specifically address the latest strains of Covid-19. Children as young as 12 are cleared for the Pfizer version. The Moderna shot is for people aged 18 years and older. The Washington Post has details. Here are today's other developments:
        Surging   The TSA says that 2,312,486 people passed through airport security checkpoints yesterday. It represents 109.6% of 2019 volume on a similar pre-Labor Day Friday and the second consecutive day the numbers surpassed 2019.
        If only we could get there   Japan still mostly bans individual travelers from visiting the country and that's too bad. The yen has fallen to 140 to the U.S. dollar, the lowest level since 1998.
        Falling fuel   The Transportation Department says U.S. commercial airlines used 9.5% less fuel in July compared to their 2019 fuel consumption. And the per-gallon price dropped 8.2% from June. The bad news? July's price of $3.71 a gallon was 87.4% higher than in July, 2019.
        Hotel hot sheet   The average occupancy rates at U.S. hotels was 65% for the week ended August 27. That's 2.5 points lower than a similar week in 2019, but lodging statisticians STR say average daily rate was $147.16, 15% higher than the same week in 2019.

Summer Travel Update: Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022

China just can't help itself and kick the "zero covid" strategy. The latest lockdown is in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. That adds 21 million more Chinese under lockdown, joining Tianjin and the province of Hebei. Meanwhile, losses continue to pile up at the country's largest carriers: Air China, China Southern and China Eastern. Their first-half losses this year are actually larger than last year. The AirInsight newsletter has those details. Here are today's other developments:
        The moment arrives   The TSA says that 1,989,119 people passed through airport security checkpoints yesterday. That is the third day in the last five with volume below two million travelers. But here's the big news: It represents 105% of 2019 volume on a similar pre-Labor Day Thursday, the first day that traffic exceeded pre-pandemic numbers.
        Erneut!   Lufthansa has wiped out virtually its entire schedule tomorrow (local time) ahead of a pilot's strike. About 130,000 passengers worldwide will be affected. And don't expect this to be a one-day event, even though the work stoppage will last just 24 hours. Be prepared for huge delays and many cancellations over the weekend as Lufthansa tries to get aircraft and crew back into position. Lufthansa was shaken by cabin crew and other work stoppages earlier this year, of course.
        Much ado about very little   The Transportation Department has launched its long-awaited Customer Service Dashboard. It's little more than two charts that show what the nation's 10 largest carriers "offer" when there are flight delays and cancellations. But, of course, even a bare-bones chart has its caveats when airlines are involved. The so-called dashboard is divided into "controllable" and "uncontrollable" cancellations with very little guidance--or regulation--on who decides the terminology. (Hint: The airlines will get their way.)
        Much ado about even less   Ahead of the dashboard's launch this morning, several airlines made modest adjustments to their voluntary "customer service" promises. The bottom line: You will still be largely on your own when flights cancel or are seriously delayed--unless you are prepared to wait hours on line for a D-list hotel and/or a pittance of a meal voucher. Reuters has details.
        The Finns are fed up   Finland has cut the number of visas issued to Russian tourists by 90%. “We have become resentful of the idea of Finland becoming a transit country when [Russian] air links are not operating. They arrive at Helsinki Airport and leave immediately for a holiday elsewhere. That is not the role Finland wants,” explained Pekka Haavisto, Finland's minister of foreign affairs.

Summer Travel Update: Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022

This isn't good: The average life expectancy of Americans plunged in 2020 and 2021, a reminder of the toll exacted by the pandemic. In 2021, the average American could expect to live until the age of 76, down from 79 years in 2019. The New York Times has details. Here are today's other developments:
        It might as well be spring   The TSA says 1,758,344 people passed through airport security checkpoints yesterday. It's the lowest one-day volume since March 29 and represents 86.3% of volume on a similar Tuesday in 2019.
        Australia unmasked   Australia will end its mask mandate for domestic flights on September 9. The mask mandate for Australian airports ended in mid-June.
        Cut and run   August is the busiest month of the year for global airlines, says OAG, the industry schedulekeeper. So it is no surprise global capacity is crashing for September and beyond. Four million seats have been cut from this week's schedule and OAG says British Airways trimmed 500,000 seats from its fourth-quarter schedule. Full details--and lots of inside-airline chatter--are here.

Summer Travel Update: Tuesday, August 30, 2022

China continues to fanatically pursue a "Zero Covid" policy. The result? Endless lockdowns. The latest are in the city of Tianjin and province of Hebei near Beijing. About 17 million people were locked down today (local time) after 51 Covid cases were reported. Agence France-Presse has details. Here are today's other developments:
        Another two million served, but ...   The TSA says 2,095,071 people passed through U.S. airport checkpoints yesterday. That is the slowest Monday of the month by at least several hundred thousand daily flyers and is a sure sign the summer rush has subsided. But it also represents 92% of volume on a similar Monday in 2019.
        Worst. Diversion. Ever.   American Airlines Flight 38 from Miami to London/Heathrow on Sunday had a mechanical issue shortly after takeoff and diverted to L.F. Wade International Airport in Bermuda. The bad news? Bermuda still has a testing requirement to enter, so American dumped the more than 300 passengers on the Boeing 777-300ER at the airport. Most were forced to sleep on the terminal floor with no sustenance other than snacks. But airport and Bermudan government officials said the fault was all American's because there is a well-used procedure to arrange immediate testing for diverted passengers. Gary Leff's View From the Wing blog has initial details and equally shocking follow-up claims.
        Crawling down   The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States today is $3.844, says the AAA. It continues the daily decline that began immediately after gasoline hit a record high of $5.01 on June 14. However, prices are now dropping a penny or less a day compared to multi-cent daily declines earlier this summer.
        Ugly day   Bad weather in the D.C. area has led to ground stops today at all three Washington airports--National, Dulles, BWI--and awful weather this evening is messing with traffic at the New York airports (JFK, LaGuardia Newark). Bottom line? As of 7pm, nearly 4,000 delays nationwide and more than 800 cancellations.

Summer Travel Update: Monday, August 29, 2022

The Transportation Department is out with statistics for June and they're as ugly as you'd expect. Complaints jumped nearly 35% from May and were an eye-watering 270% over pre-pandemic levels. This despite the airlines operating just 85.8% of the flights they ran in June, 2019. Here are today's other developments:
        Thisclose   The TSA says that 6,445,312 million people passed through U.S. airport checkpoints this weekend (Friday-Sunday). That's the slowest weekend in August. However, it is 99% of the volume on a similar weekend in 2019, thisclose to bringing us back to pre-pandemic levels.
        When in doubt, fly to Doha   No airline has been hurt more by current events than Finnair. It has lost about two-thirds of its Asia business--Finnair was building an East-West hub at Helsinki--since the pandemic. And Western sanctions against Russia have wiped out its once-extensive Russian route network. So what does the airline do with its extra aircraft? Some will be used on new nonstop routes to Doha, Qatar, from Copenhagen, Helsinki and Stockholm. Finnair's Oneworld Alliance partner, Qatar Airways, will code-share on the routes. Daily service starts late in the fall with Airbus A330s.
        Europe's traffic update   Flights transiting European airspace were up 1.7% for the week ended August 28 compared to the previous week. But that still leaves Europe down 13% compared to a similar week in 2019, according to Eurocontrol, which operates the continent's air traffic control.

Summer Travel Update: Weekend, Aug. 27-28, 2022

The United States is ending its policy of free, at-home anti-gen test kits. The last day to get freebies is Friday, September 2. The Hill has details. Here are this weekend's other developments.
        Beer here   After two years in Covid-imposed limbo, Bavaria is reviving Oktoberfest, its annual celebration of all things sudsy. But some Germans are not so sure a massive, weeks-long party is the right call given the possibility of an uptick of new Coronavirus infections. has details.
        I fart in your general direction   Two Air France pilots have been suspended for fighting in the cockpit on a Geneva-Paris flight in June. The Associated Press has details.
        Hotel hot sheet   The average occupancy rate at U.S. hotels was 67.3% for the week ended August 20. That translates to 460,000 fewer rooms sold compared to a similar week in 2019, says industry statistician STR.
        Portugal woes   About five dozen flights were cancelled at Lisbon Airports on Sunday (local time) due to a strike by ground handlers.

Summer Travel Daily Special Reports

A post-pandemic increase in travelers, mindless overscheduling by European and American carriers and a dire shortage of workers--pilots, gate agents, flight attendants, baggage handlers, even air traffic controllers--has turned the summer travel season into madness. If it can go wrong, it has. With the notable exception of Asia, where traffic still lags far behind pre-pandemic levels, it's been a summer from hell. Click here for the updates.

2022 Daily Coronavirus Updates

Covid is still with us, but Americans seem to have checked out. The death toll surpassed one million by May and the vaccine rate remained low, yet leisure travelers began to flock back to the road in numbers much like 2019. You can see everything we posted in bullet-point form, grouped into weekly segments, by clicking 2022's archives.

2021 Daily Coronavirus Updates

The year began with hope and vaccines. It ended with Omicron, new lockdowns and restrictions that foiled plans for a return to the "normal" of travel. You can see everything we posted in bullet-point form, grouped into weekly segments, by clicking 2021's archives.

2020 Daily Coronavirus Updates

We began day-by-day tracking of the Coronavirus' effect on travel in late January last year. You can see everything we posted in bullet-point form, grouped into weekly segments, by clicking 2020's archives.