Summer 2022: My Flight Experiences

Summer 2022: My Flight Experiences

There has been a lot of talk about traveling this summer.  Mostly catastrophizing  just how bad it would be.  It was predicted to be the perfect storm of post-pandemic revenge travel and understaffing of airlines due to reductions during COVID and record low unemployment rates.

The Daily, a podcast from the New York Times, released an episode called The Summer of Airline Chaos.  The postmortem declared that it was bad but not actually that much worse than normal:

So, look, this summer is bad. Flight cancellations, flight delays are both up by about 1/3 from the summer of 2019. But if you look at the actual hard numbers, in 2019, just under two out of every 100 flights was cancelled. This time around, it’s just over two. That’s still a pretty small share. When it comes to delays, about 19 percent of flights were delayed in 2019. This year, it’s up to about 24 percent. So it is worse, but this is kind of looking like a bad summer, but not a drastically bad summer.

This summer I spent five weeks traveling; including a total of 15 flights across 11 airlines.  Only four of those flights had a departure or arrival in the United States: two international flights and two domestic.

CANCELLED – Of those 15 flights, three were cancelled:

  • Swiss International Air Lines – Zurich to Luxembourg – Flight was cancelled in advance but I was never notified.  I was rebooked by the airline on a flight four hours later.
  • Finnair – Amsterdam to Helsinki – I was rebooked by the airline weeks in advance on an earlier flight that actually was better for my schedule.
  • American Airlines – DFW to Las Vegas – I got on an earlier flight than the one originally booked, however after sitting on the plane for two hours the flight got cancelled and I ended up back on my original flight.

DELAYED – Of those 15 flights, four were delayed by at least one hour but no more than two hours.

  • Qatar Airways – Doha to Amman – Delayed 101 minutes.
  • FlyOne – Tbilisi to Yerevan – Delayed 110 minutes.
  • Condor – Yerevan to Frankfurt – Delayed 102 minutes.
  • Air Serbia – Frankfurt to Belgrade – Delayed 88 minutes.

ON TIME – Of those 15 flights, seven were on time (give or take 20 minutes).

  • Both of my flights on low cost carrier Wizz Air were on time!
  • Other on time flights included Qatar Airways, Edelweiss Air (for Swiss), Azerbaijan Airlines, and Alaska Airlines.

So with my small sample size of flights over the summer, my experience was actually worse than the average.  I am guessing that the statistics quoted in The Daily were for domestic US flights where mine were mostly international; so not really apples to apples.

  • 20% of my flights were cancelled vs. 2% on average
  • 26% of my flights were delayed vs. 24% on average
  • 46% of my flights were on time

A few notes:

  • My average delay was roughly 1 hour 40 minutes; which feels significant when waiting at the airport.  Three out of the four delayed flights were at night which had me arriving in a new city even later at night which is never fun.
  • Having three flights cancelled seemed like a lot; but the fix was such that it just felt like a long delay as they were always able to rebook me on a flight later that day.  In the Finnair case, the flight was cancelled and rebooked early enough that I was notified and able to adjust my plans in a positive way.
  • I traveled through some big European hubs including Amsterdam and Frankfurt.  The only issue I faced due to airport staffing shortages was getting through passport control in Frankfurt where it took about two hours as they only had one staff working.  In Amsterdam I was happy to be flying Business Class as it allowed me to bypass the long security line.

Overall, I had expectations that my travel would be badly impacted by all the challenges of the 2022 Summer travel season.  And my travel was disrupted.  However, due to my expectations, to be honest it didn’t seem as bad as it looks on paper.

Probably the worst flight cancellation was the American Airlines flight from DFW to Vegas as we had to sit on a hot airplane for two hours before being told our flight was cancelled, deplaning, and returning to the terminal to be booked back on my originally booked flight.

None of the cancellations or delays involved me having to overnight in an airport or cancel hotels.  I always ended up at my destination by the end of the day.

For me, flying during the Summer of 2022 had challenges but in the end was not so bad.

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