Summer Special Report
September 10-16, 2022
Read all about the summer chaos! Southwest Airlines predicts third-quarter revenue from business travel will be more than 25% below 2019 levels. U.S. airlines flew 9% fewer passengers in June than in June, 2019. Germany will allow in-flight mask mandate to end next week. New Zealand drops vaccination and testing requirements to enter the country and ends its in-flight mask mandate. Amsterdam and Dublin airports melt down again. Italy and France face more travel strikes. And more.

Summer Travel Update: Friday, Sept. 16, 2022

U.S. airlines handled 70.9 million domestic and international enplanements in June, 2022. That includes 62.3 million domestic passengers and 8.6 million international passengers. The systemwide total remains 9% below June, 2019. It is also 12% down from the all-time high of 80.6 million, registered in January, 2020, just before Covid became a global issue. Here are today's other developments:
        Big bounce   The TSA says it screened 2,337,449 million travelers yesterday, the highest one-day volume in almost two weeks. It is also a robust 95.2% of the volume on a similar day in September, 2019.
        Papers, please   Spain has extended Covid entry restrictions on visitors from non-EU nations. Travelers will have to produce proof of Covid-19 vaccination, proof of a negative test--72 hours for PCR, 24 hours for antigen--or a recovery certificate.
        Runners low   Organizers have called off the Hong Kong marathon just two months before the race. Event management and the Hong Kong government couldn't agree on a Covid testing procedure. The South China Morning Post has details.
        Down week   The occupancy rate at U.S. hotels for the week ended September 10 was 61.7%. It is 11.2 points below the post-Labor Day week of 2019. according to industry statisticians STR. Among the Top 25 lodging markets only Orlando had a rise in occupancy over 2019 levels.

Summer Travel Update: Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022

The nation at large--and rail riders in specific--dodged a bullet. Thanks to some timely intervention of the White House, there's a tentative agreement between freight railroads and employees. There will be no strike at the stroke of midnight tonight. Amtrak says it is already working to restore its cancelled longer-haul trains (see below) and commuter lines that run over freight tracks say Friday service will operate normally. Here are today's other developments:
        Down days   The TSA says that it screened 1,968,902 million travelers yesterday, the second consecutive day below two million. That is 91.7% of the volume on a similar day in September, 2019.
        Still grounded   Southwest Airlines says that leisure travel revenue this summer and fall is outpacing 2019 levels. The laggard? Business travel. The airline says close-in bookings this summer were "softer" than expected. Southwest says its expects third-quarter revenue for "managed" (read: corporate) travel will be down 26-28% compared to the third quarter of 2019. That is substantially worse than earlier estimates.
        Don't let the door hit you ...   The chief executive of Amsterdam Schiphol, Dick Benschop, has resigned following months of chaos at the airport. Meanwhile, Schiphol will require airlines to reduce flight schedules again, this time by around 18% in October, in an effort to get the short-staffed airport back to some semblance of normal., an English-language site, has details.
        The Queen's airspace   Two hundred flights at London/Heathrow will be cancelled on Monday due to airspace and noise restrictions imposed for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth. British Airways will dump 100 flights. Virgin Atlantic will drop four flights serving California airports. Other Heathrow flights will be delayed so they stay out of the skies during the funeral. The Independent has details.
        Striking tales   The estimate of cancelled flights ahead of tomorrow's air-traffic control strike in France has reached 1,000. Worse, the controllers have added three additional strike dates: September 28, 29 and 30.
        Naked City   Americans are back to work and the unemployment rate is near post-war lows. But one place where the post-pandemic jobs boom hasn't reached is New York City. It is still 176,000 jobs below pandemic levels and New York is experiencing the slowest recovery of any major metropolitan area. The New York Times has details.

Summer Travel Update: Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022

The body of Queen Elizabeth II arrived in London last night (local time) and is now lying in state at Westminster Hall. The line of people hoping to pay their respects before the state funeral on Monday is stretching for miles along major roads. In fact, the funeral cortege snarled London roads. Meanwhile, the London Underground and British trains into London are packed and hotels are full. Here are today's other developments:
        Still good, but ...   The TSA says that it screened 1,807,768 million travelers yesterday. That is 90% of the volume on a similar day in September, 2019. Last Tuesday, however, volume was 107% of 2019 volume.
        Amtrak agonistes   Staring down a Friday freight-rail strike that could upend its long-haul service, Amtrak has cancelled more trains. Starting today, Amtrak has suspended service on seven more runs, including the Lake Shore Limited, Silver Star and the Coast Starlight. Starting tomorrow, four more trains, including the Auto Train and Cardinal, will be suspended.
        Shanghai surprise   Typhoon Muifa made landfall at Shanghai in the early hours of Thursday (local time), the storm's second landfall in China this week. It has led to the cancellation of all flights at Shanghai's airports.
        Tales from the pump   The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States today is $3.703. That's a fractional drop from yesterday, says the AAA, but is 6 cents lower than last week and more than 25 cents lower than a month ago.
        La dolce vita (just kidding)   Italy faces another nationwide rail strike on Friday, September 16. Rail workers are striking to protest passenger assaults on train employees. Wanted In Rome has details.

Summer Travel Update: Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022

A nationwide freight-rail strike looms and may start as early as 12:01 Friday morning. Since almost all longer-haul Amtrak' trains run on rails owned by the freight lines, service will be disrupted. Starting today, Amtrak is cancelling the Southwest Chief, the Empire Builder and the California Zephyr and the Los Angeles-San Antonio leg of the Texas Eagle. Most Northeast Corridor trains, which operate on Amtrak-owned tracks, will not be affected. Here are today's other developments:
        Good, but ...   The TSA says that it screened 2,224,366 million travelers yesterday. That is 92.5% of volume on a similar day in September, 2019. Last Monday, however, was part of Labor Day weekend when traffic passed 100% of 2019 volume.
        French fried   French air traffic controllers have called a strike for 6am Friday to 6am Saturday (local time). French aviation officials have asked airlines to cut 50% of their flights. Air France says it will cancel about 10% of international flights and around 55% of short- and medium-haul traffic. The airline's statement and policies are here.
        Another Amsterdam meltdown ...   Amsterdam's Schiphol airport melted down earlier this summer and a shortage of security and customs/immigration staff caused lines that literally stretched out the doors. And now that the summer rush has passed and Schiphol has stopped paying overtime and premium rates, the airport is clogged to overflowing again. Passenger wait times are reaching four hours and airport officials asked airlines to cut dozens of flights yesterday. Reuters has details.

Summer Travel Update: Monday, Sept. 12, 2022

There have been so many "unruly passenger" tales since the pandemic that, frankly, they all sort of merge into one gigantic maw of ugliness. But this one stands out due to the sentence: A New York woman was hit with four months in prison and a big fine after causing a disturbance last year while flying first class on American Airlines. The Wall Street Journal has details. Here are today's other developments:
        Not quite   The TSA says that 6,365,418 people passed through U.S. airport checkpoints this weekend (Friday-Sunday). That's lower than any weekend in August and 92.9% of the volume on a similar weekend in 2019.
        New Zealand relents   New Zealand had some of the strictest Coronavirus travel rules during the pandemic and was mostly successful keeping Covid at bay. Now it has lifted its last strictures: the mask mandate on public transit, including airlines, and the requirement to be vaccinated to enter the country. On-arrival testing is also ended. The changes are effective tomorrow (local time).
        Lufthansa being Lufthansa   Discrimination of many stripes continues to be a problem at Lufthansa, the German carrier. The latest incident: It refused to board a quadriplegic passenger's electric wheelchair even though the flyer had cleared it in advance with the airline. The kicker: The traveler was U.S. Congressman Jim Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat. The Washington Post has details.
        September plunge   Commercial passenger flights in Europe for the week ended September 11 fell about 1% from the previous week and remain down 12% compared to 2019, says Eurocontrol, which operates the continent's air traffic control. On-time performance for arrivals was a miserable 64.3%.

Summer Travel Update: Weekend, Sept. 10-11, 2022

You won't be surprised by this: Atlanta/Hartsfield handled the most passengers in the United States in 2021. According to Airports Council International, 75.7 million passengers passed through ATL last year, which also made it the busiest airport in the world. Canada's busiest airport: Toronto/Pearson, which handled 12.7 million flyers. Here are this weekend's other developments.
        Germany unmasks   German government officials say they will not continue the in-flight mask mandate when it expires September 23. Germany has required N95 or equivalent masks to fly to, from or through the country. The Associated Press has details.
        The (bad) luck of the Irish   Aer Lingus cancelled dozens of flights and delayed many more Saturday when internal information systems and communication systems failed and grounded the airline. The carrier's hub in Dublin was thrown into chaos. The Irish Times has details.
        Dirty birds   You can't fool The New York Times especially since it sees the same social media we see. It chronicles the upswing in complaints about dirty aircraft and then promptly engages in a blame game over who's responsible for the trash and grime.

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.