Holiday air travel might be tough

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — If you’ve got plans to travel for the holidays, you might want to have backup plans too. The airlines are gearing up for their busy season but like many industries, they’re dealing with staffing shortages which could end up impacting your plans.

Emily Darter takes more than a dozen flights a year.

“I’m from Missouri so, I typically go back to visit friends and family,” she told News10NBC.

She normally travels into and out of the Frederick Douglass-Greater Rochester International Airport.

“It’s been rough lately, prices are definitely a lot higher post-COVID, weather has been an issue as well… I’ve dealt with a bunch of cancellations and I’ve been having trouble getting back to Rochester,” she said.

It’s not likely things are going to get much better anytime soon. As we head into the holiday travel season, airline staffing remains an issue across the board and because of it, there are fewer flights to choose from. In an effort to make sure the flights that are still scheduled don’t get delayed or canceled most airlines are offering their employees added incentives to show up. American, for example, is actually paying flight attendants and pilots triple for trips over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Travel agents suggest you pad your trip with an extra day or two and start checking flight statuses days in advance.

“We like to say pack your patience I mean, it’s just kind of a unique time,” said Lea Vincent of Vincent Travel, “some things are unavoidable, you just can’t predict.”

Then, of course, there is the issue of safety. Full plans coupled with possible delays on top of pandemic mandates. Darter has already run into some issues.

“The lady sitting next to him had an issue with the COVID protocols, he wasn’t wearing a mask […] he became disruptive and then there was an issue with the captain and the flight staff, so yeah I think people are getting irritated, they’re frustrated — busy planes, high pricing, short-staffed, I think it’s just a big combination of everything,” she said.

News10NBC tracked prices to a number of popular Florida destinations for the week after Christmas. The price per seat didn’t change dramatically from week to week over the past three weeks whether you’re flying out of Rochester, Syracuse or Buffalo. So, there’s seats available and while the fares are high compared to previous years, they don’t seem to be skyrocketing from day to day — at least not yet.