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Traveling is troublesome and it's not due to the coronavirus

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Southwest Airlines was among the airlines affected by a contractor's computer outage Monday, forcing hundreds of flights to be delayed.
File photo by Leah Millis
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Reuters
Traveling by air has been harder this summer due to multiple problems at airlines and airports.

Airline issues have become all too common this summer, as airports have been busier than any time since the pandemic began.

If you've been on a plane lately, it's likely you've had a rough experience. Staffing shortages, lost luggage, overcrowded airports and canceled flights are just a few factors that contribute to Americans' traveling woes.

Airlines were caught short-handed after the pandemic and added more flights than they can staff if there are problems such as weather, said David Schaper, who covers transportation for NPR.

"There's people that haven't been able to see family in a couple of years because of the pandemic. We're talking about missing graduations, we're talking about missed weddings, we're talking about missed family reunions and things like that," said Schaper.

The airline industry and members of Congress have made a few proposals that have raised questions. One was to raise the retirement age for pilots from 65 to 67 to curb the national pilot shortage.

Schaper said this could help short-term but doesn't think it's a long term solution.

"The CEO of United Airlines said something to the effect of I think 30 or 40% of their pilots who are already age 64 do not meet the medical requirements to to keep flying," Schaper states. "So therefore they are on medical leave and they're not able to fly either temporarily or fully."

But there might be some light at the end of the road. According to Hopper, an online travel agency and app that tracks the cost of airline tickets, car rentals and hotel rooms, predicts travel prices will drop 40% in the early weeks of fall.

  • David Schaper, who covers transportation for NPR and is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk
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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
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