Airline Pilots Protesting For Better Working Conditions And Quality Of Life

Protests in airports have been occurring all across America as pilots are fighting for better working conditions with quality of life issues taking center stage of their requests.


Gun Found Stuffed Inside a Raw Chicken at Florida TSA Checkpoint

A Florida air passenger attempted to smuggle a gun onto a flight using a raw chicken on Monday. Transportation Security Administration officers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport caught the firearm at one of its checkpoints, wrapped in thin paper packaging inside a Kikiri Quirch brand baking hen. 

The passenger had stashed the chicken in his carry-on and was headed to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, according to Sari Koshetz, a TSA spokesperson for the Gulf region. 

The official TSA Instagram account shared a post on Monday containing a photo of the raw chicken being examined inside the security area alongside the gun. It was captioned, “there’s a personal fowl here…”

“The plot chickens as we barrel our way closer to Thanksgiving. For us, it’s a time to be thankful that our officers are always working around the cluck to keep you safe. Take for instance this ‘hen you believe it?’ find at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. We hate to beak it to you here, but stuffing a firearm in your holiday bird for travel is just a baste of time. This idea wasn’t even half-baked; it was raw, greasy, and obviously unsupervised. The only roast happening here is this poor packing choice! Feather you like it or not, there are rules for traveling with guns and ammunition. So, don’t wing it; roost over the proper packaging info through the link in our bio.”

Embed from Getty Images

Passengers are permitted to transport fresh meat and seafood in their carry-ons if they follow special instructions provided by the TSA. People who want to travel with guns and ammunition must pack the firearms unloaded in locked, hard-shell containers within their checked bags. They must also declare the items at the airport ticket counter.

“You may transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only. Declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter. The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted. Be aware that the container the firearm was in when purchased may not adequately secure the firearm when it is transported in checked baggage.”

A criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is ongoing. Nestor Iglesias, a spokesperson for Homeland Security Investigations, told CNN he could not provide additional details since the incident is a “criminal case which has been accepted for prosecution.”

This is not the first time a passenger has attempted to conceal prohibited items using unconventional methods. According to CBS News, a “meth burrito” was confiscated in Houston last year. 

In 2022, passengers cumulatively brought more than 700 guns to TSA checkpoints at Florida state airports, a higher number of guns than any previous year. Twelve airports set records, according to a TSA news release

Embed from Getty Images

“The largest number of guns TSA officers have had to intercept were: 129 guns at Orlando International Airport (MCO), 120 guns at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), 102 guns at Tampa International (TPA), 83 guns at Miami International (MIA), 58 guns at Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), 37 guns at Southwest Florida International (RSW), 28 at Palm Beach International (PBI), and 24 at Pensacola International (PNS).”

Koshetz said that “every passenger bears the responsibility of knowing exactly where their gun is before entering the security checkpoint” since “an accidental discharge could result in tragedy.”

“Don’t let bringing a gun to a federal checkpoint be the reason you cannot answer ‘no’ to the question often asked on job applications: have you ever been arrested? As we enter the busiest holiday travel period, remember if you are going to travel with your gun, it must be in your checked bag, but be sure you know what the gun laws are on each side of your trip or you may be heading to jail instead of to your family gathering. Guns may not be legal to transport even in checked baggage in some jurisdictions.”

Passengers who violate TSA rules could face civil penalties of up to $13,910, even if they are not arrested by law enforcement. 

Koshetz told USA Today that it was unclear whether the passenger’s gun was loaded. 

Airport TSA

TSA Warns Of Travel ‘Hiccups For Very, Very Busy Summer’

David Pekoske, the nation’s TSA chief, and airport and airline leaders throughout the nation have stated that there will be inevitable “hiccups” this summer, as the agency is expecting the largest airport passenger crowds since the Covid-19 pandemic first began. 

Pkoske said that labor shortages and an increased demand for travel have already begun to overwhelm airlines. The agency is gearing up to deploy as many as 1,000 TSA agents and K-9 units to the nation’s busiest airports to ideally counter any potential delays at security checkpoints. 

“We expect the summer to be very, very busy. That’s not to say that there will not be some hiccups along the way — those things will happen, but we’ll do everything we can to recover quickly.”

Embed from Getty Images

Some expect airport crowds surpass 3 million passengers per day on the busiest travel days for the summer. The increased demand for travel has also led to pilots complaining about fatigue and flight cancellations heading into the summer at airlines including American Airlines, Southwest, Alaska, and Delta. 

 “Everybody is facing labor shortages; airlines and TSA are no different. At just about every level you can think of in the airline industry we can speak of we’re having labor shortages,” said Paul Doell, vice president for the National Air Carrier Association.

Airline restaurants and car rental companies have also been dealing with labor shortages. Customer service call centers for airlines and passengers who need wheelchair assistance, as well as ground airport employers, have also been struggling to maintain a steady supply of workers to deal with the demand for flights. 

Airlines themselves are cutting thousands of flights from their schedules as a means of helping scheduled flights run on time. This also means that TSA agents and other airline workers will likely have to work harder to get travelers to their flights on time.

Embed from Getty Images

“But regional air carriers, which fly about 43% of all scheduled flights in the U.S., say they are facing labor shortages as employees such as pilots are being poached by the larger airlines. That could create issues connecting smaller destinations to larger hub airports,” said Kevin Burke, head of Airports Council International-North America.

“The pilot shortage is impacting the regionals, and we expect to see the small communities hit the hardest. We expect this to continue to be a trend, but those pain points will assert themselves at hubs as well.”

Pekoske warned that “many travelers this summer could be getting on a plane for the first time in three years, especially as masking and Covid-19 restrictions have fallen in many parts of the country and international travel restrictions are being lifted.”

“The amount of people that worked concessions prior to the pandemic are not there now, they’ve come back, but they’re nowhere near where they need to be,” Burke explained. 

“So we really ask that we try to have patience and understanding when they are dealing with employees at the airport. Everybody’s trying to do the best job they can to make sure this is safe, secure and also as comfortable as it can be under normal circumstances but especially when you have those tough days where you have storms that are disrupting the system,” Doell said. 

Couple Waiting in Airport

Airports Around The Nation That Offer On-Site Covid-19 Testing For Travelers 

Domestic and international airports throughout the US are adjusting to the new normal’s the Covid-19 pandemic has forced upon all of us. While traveling in an airplane may seem like the last thing any of us wants to do, the reality is many individuals need to travel via aircraft for their work, to see their sick family, or to move to a safer location to wait out the rest of this crisis. 

Regardless of why one may travel now, some airlines are providing a little more peace of mind for nervous travelers worried about contracting Covid-19. While there are now a multitude of new health and safety procedures being implemented in airports everywhere, that have already proven to help curb the rate of infection, some airports are taking it even further and offering on-site testing for Covid-19 for anyone who wants it. Here’s a list of some of the international and domestic airlines offering such services: 

Embed from Getty Images

Alaska: Alaska in general requires any out-of-state visitor to either arrive with proof that they’re negative and have been quarantining, or they can get tested upon arrival and self-quarantine until they receive their results. Tests typically cost $250 but are free for Alaska residents, and these testing sites are not implemented throughout all airports in the state. 

Some specific examples include the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport which has set up a testing site right next to baggage claim for any incoming travelers. No appointment necessary, just register online and arrive!

California: California has been a major hotspot for the Covid-19 pandemic, so much so that a multitude of airlines throughout the state are taking testing matters into their own hands. For example, at the Oakland International Airport, on-site rapid testing is available for travelers heading to Hawaii. The San Francisco National Airport has on-site rapid testing as well for United Airlines passengers who are also heading to Hawaii. 

Connecticut: Connecticut already requires any visitors from a majority of states in the US to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, or arrive with a negative Covid-19 test. The Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks offers tests for $125, but they also accept insurance. Passengers simply show their boarding pass and they’ll be able to get tested. 

Embed from Getty Images

Florida: The Tampa International Airport has recently expanded it’s Covid-19 protection program and extended it through the end of 2020. Testing is available for all passengers, arriving or departing, and cost $150 for a PCR test, and $60 for a rapid test. 

Massachusetts: The Logan International Airport in Boston recently opened an XpresCheck Covid testing facility to it’s airport. Individuals can go and get a rapid test, PCR test, and blood antibody tests as well. Massachusetts in general requires a 14 day quarantine for any visitors or a negative Covid-19 test result that was taken within 72 hours of arrival. 

New Jersey: The Newark Liberty International Airport also recently opened an XpresCheck location that provides all the same testing! Additionally, United Airlines will begin offering on-site testing at the Newark International Airport starting November 16th. 

New York: The John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York was one of the first locations to receive an XpresCheck location offering rapid, PCR, and antibody testing. The same testing is available at Laguardia as well. 

Vermont: Vermont’s Burlington International Airport now offers rapid Covid testing as well as ddPCR (Droplet Digital Polymerase Chain Reaction) testing that is able to run a full flu diagnosis on the body as well.

Airport Security

How Covid-19 Has Changed The Way We Go Through Airport Security

The Covid-19 pandemic has truly changed the entire world and the multitude of industries that run it. One of the biggest industries that has been impacted internationally by the virus has been the travel/tourism industry. Obviously a virus that spreads through close contact in public spaces would disrupt the businesses that make their money from hundreds of strangers coming in close proximity with one another, however, now that the world has been enduring this pandemic for eight months, the industry has adjusted to better accommodate for the new normal we’re all living in. 

Specifically the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in airports have taken on a whole list of health and safety procedure protocols to protect themselves and passengers from contracting the virus as they pass through airport security checkpoints. 

Embed from Getty Images

Obviously travelling seems like it should be out of the question for anyone in the middle of a global health crisis involving a virus that spreads easily, however, as America has proven if there’s an opportunity to do things normally, people are going to jump on that opportunity, especially when flights are the cheapest they’ve been in years. 

When travelers first enter the airport they’ll notice a difference in experience almost immediately. Individuals are prompted to scan their own boarding passes when they first enter the TSA area of the airport. They’re prompted to do this at every checkpoint throughout the airport, this way TSA workers don’t have to be handed thousands of passes during a given day and can reduce the risk of cross-contamination. 

In a pre-pandemic context, one of the biggest discrepancies all airport travelers could agree on was the limited amount of liquids you’re able to take with you on a plane. However, now that we’re living in a time where hand sanitizer is everyone’s best friend, airlines are allowing travelers to pack sanitizer in containers up to 12 ounces. The hand sanitizer just needs to be removed from the luggage so that it can pass through a separate X-ray screening; this is to ensure the liquid is actually sanitizer. 

Embed from Getty Images

Other liquids still must be less than 3.4 fluid ounces and passengers need to be adamant about checking to make sure all liquids and aerosols meet those requirements. If not, the passengers themselves will need to remove the item to prevent cross-contamination which will just take up even more time, so be extra careful when packing any liquids or aerosols that aren’t hand sanitizer. 

Since many individuals are opting not to buy any food or drinks at the airports, TSA is allowing for any meals or snacks that one wants to take through security to go through as long as it’s removed from the luggage and in a clear plastic bag placed in a separate tray. This small measure has already been thought to decrease the possibility of cross-contamination greatly. 

TSA agents have also been installing acrylic barriers in all major airports around the country. These barriers are specifically designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 between travelers and TSA agents. They’re being placed at all TSA podiums, X-Ray areas, secondary search areas, and checked baggage drop-off locations. 

The TSA has also begun testing out self-service facial recognition technology that can immediately verify a passengers identity. The technology is currently being tested at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport where passengers are prompted to scan their own ID’s so that the machine can verify their identity and boarding information. If the technology proves to be successful in the coming weeks it will likely be implemented in all major airports throughout the country.

Coronavirus-Sniffing Dogs To Start Test Program In Airports This Week 

In a new pilot program launched this past Tuesday at Finland’s Helsinki Airport, trained dogs are being used to detect if passengers are infected with the Covid-19 virus. According to a press release from the Finnish airport operator Finavia, these animals have been specifically trained to smell the coronavirus the same way that certain canines have the ability to smell cancer in individuals. 

In the release it was stated that the program was completely voluntary but encouraged for international travelers coming into Finland. If a passenger chooses to participate, they will be asked to swipe their skin using a “test wipe” that workers will then put into a cup and give to the dogs. Individuals never make contact with the dogs themselves, this way if individuals who have a canine allergy want to participate they still have the ability to. 

Embed from Getty Images

The release showed a demonstrative photo of a passenger wiping the test cloth on the inside of their wrist but Anna Hielm-Björkman, a University of Helsinki researcher, claims that sweat samples will also be taken from rubbing the cloth on the back of the neck, where sweat is more likely to accumulate. 

“It’s a very promising method. Dogs are obviously very good at sniffing so if it works, it will be a good screening method for other places around the world.”

The canine companions only need 10 seconds to sniff the sample before they’re able to acknowledge if they smell Covid-19 or not. They indicate the results of the test by either laying down, paw scratching, or barking if they smell the virus, otherwise they’ll just act as if they smelt a random cloth they have no interest in.

Embed from Getty Images

The whole process is meant to be quick and easy for passengers. The report claims that the entire ordeal should only take one minute, and individuals who “test positive” based on the dog’s reaction will also be asked to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to double check the results. The PCR tests are essentially the cotton swab tests that have been occurring at testing locations across the world for the past six months. 

“Dogs are also able to identify Covid-19 from a much smaller sample than the PCR tests. The difference is massive, as a dog only needs 10 to 100 molecules to identify the virus, whereas test equipment requires 18,000,000.”

The University of Helsinki initially announced their interest in using dogs to identify the coronavirus back in May, after preliminary tests showed that dogs could have the ability to identify it. Hielm-Björkman claims that her team has “solid experience in training disease-related, scent-detection dogs,” so it was amazing to see them identify a completely new virus. 

The four dogs currently deployed at the Helsinki Airport are named Miina, Kossi, ET, and Valo, all of which were trained by the company Wise Nose. These dogs have been trained for their whole lives to identify various diseases such as cancer and diabetes, and there are currently 10 others being trained to identify Covid-19 specifically. Researchers in the US have been following Finland’s suit and have also begun training scent-detecting canines to identify the virus. The Dubai International Airport was the first in the world to deploy dogs for smelling Covid-19, and after a month they reported a 92% accuracy rate. 

Statue of Liberty

Governor Cuomo Announces New Travel Restriction Enforcement’s For New York

Governor Cuomo announced this week that he would be implementing even more travel enforcement operations at all airports in the state in order to ensure that all travelers coming into New York follow quarantine guidelines and restrictions. After New York became one of the country’s initial epicenters for Covid-19 at the beginning of this pandemic, the administration has made it a goal to protect itself from that happening again.

Part of the operation includes having enforcement teams stationed at every airport in New York State. These teams will meet arriving planes at the gates to greet all passengers as they exit into the airport. The enforcement teams will request proof of completion from every passenger in regards to their State Department of Health traveler forms. These forms are given to all airline passengers before, during, and after all flights to New York. 

Embed from Getty Images

The state has now made these forms electronic as well to make it easier for passengers to complete before coming in and out of the state. The Department of Health in New York is also issuing an emergency health order that requires all out-of-state travelers coming into New York to complete the DOH traveler form before coming into the state. Travelers who fail to complete the forms before leaving the airport will be subject to a fine of $2,000 and may be brought in for a court hearing that will order a mandatory state-issued quarantine. 

A multitude of airlines have pledged to help make passengers more hyper-aware of these forms and the importance of filling them out. Many airlines have opted to use pre-flight emails/announcements, as well as in-flight announcements throughout the course of the entire trip. 

If you’re an out-of-state traveler that’s from one of the state’s on New York’s designated travel list you must fill out one of the DOH traveler forms online beforehand, this also holds true if you’re planning on entering the state via train or car. Currently New York has 19 states listed as meeting the criteria for a required quarantine. Cuomo states that it’s up to every out-of-state traveler to comply with the rules if the nation has any chance at recovering. 

Embed from Getty Images

“New York’s success in fighting the COVID-19 virus is under two threats: lack of compliance and the virus coming to New York from other states with increasing infection rates.” 

Larger more commercial airlines will be hiring peace officers and various employees from state agencies to work on the enforcement teams for arriving flights everyday. More regional airports throughout the state will have the teams on site based on the number of daily arrivals. As you could imagine, smaller more regional airports are seeing a lot less traffic especially when compared to larger ones that are located in more populated areas such as NYC. 

Regional airport enforcement teams will also be made up of State DOH employees as well as local police depending on the area. Each airport is being required by the state to set up a large physical space at each gate that stands out and is clear to passengers. These areas will have proper social distancing markers set up and will hopefully work to run smoothly and quickly so that passengers can exit the airport as quickly and safely as possible.


Foreign Carriers Rate Highly in Latest Survey

International travelers were recently asked which airlines they felt offered the most satisfaction when traveling overseas, and you may be surprised at the results.

The International Destination Satisfaction Survey by J.D. Power has found that the airline travelers rated as number one for flights between North America and Europe was Turkish Airlines, with those choosing to fly between North America and Asia opting for Japan airlines.

So what has happened with American companies such as United Airlines, American Airlines or Delta? It seems that even with many airlines adding extra flights, the number of comfortable seats being increased as well as several new amenities added to specific flights, international travelers prefer to book their travel through foreign carriers.

Michael Taylor looks after travel intelligence for J.D. Power and commented that “what we normally hear is all U.S. based airlines don’t do as well as the European or Asian or Middle Eastern airlines, but they held their own in this study.”

Out of the three main American airlines Delta achieved the highest rating for flights not only to Asia but also to Europe, therefore validating the company’s decision to increase the number of seats and flights available.

For instance, Delta changed several of its airplanes in 2017 to enable them to include a new area of seats as well as services. Delta Premium Select, located between the main cabin and Delta One business class, has bigger seats and space allowing them to be reclined further back than any that are available in the main cabin. They have also provided a footrest and improved the meals served to their passengers.

These improvements, and the area’s new name, have given Delta an improved selling point for their seats with each Premium Select ticket costing more than a seat in coach, however they are much cheaper than seats in business class.

Embed from Getty Images

Ed Bastian, Chief Executive Officer of Delta, confirmed that the Premium Select cabin had been a success confirming that the “passenger demand for the product has been phenomenal.”

United has not been so fortunate and has come in as one of the lowest rated airlines that offers flights between North America and Asia. But this low rating has not come as a surprise to Taylor:

“One of the big things that we see with the second-time flyer is past experience, and United’s past experience has not been that great, but it is improving.”

The most surprising aspect of the survey from J.D. Power was the wide differences for passengers trying to book their first trip compared to those who had booked flights before.

For those booking their first trip overseas it was discovered that pricing was the major factor. However, the travelers who fly regularly, or even a few times before, confirmed they chose their flights and airlines depending on previous experiences – particularly for long haul destinations such as Asia and Europe.

As Taylor explains:

“They’re looking to say ‘Okay, I had great service. I’m going to spend a couple hundred dollars more on that ticket and have a more comfortable flight, more enjoyable flight on this long haul.'”

Embed from Getty Images

With more and more travelers happy to spend more money on their flights than in the past, this means that the majority of airlines are investing more money as well as time on all their flights to Europe and Asia. For instance, the one area where airlines are predominantly making an effort is in the refreshment department of the flights, with many meals and drinks being improved all round.

In fact, one of the main reasons Turkish Airlines was rated so highly for their flights between North America and Europe was because of their food and drink service with “the food and beverage service on Turkish is something that people mentioned an awful lot.”

It remains to be seen if American Airlines, United and Delta can not only match their foreign adversaries on their long haul flights — especially to destinations such as Europe and Asia — and if they can it is unclear if they will be able to maintain their standards.

But as Taylor has mentioned, the home-grown airlines will want to appeal to the “high-ticket-passenger, so they are ‘putting more investment into it.'”

The top rated airlines between North America and Europe are:
1. Turkish Airlines
2. Virgin Atlantic
3. British Airways and Delta (tie)
4. Air France
5. American Airlines
6. United Airlines
7. Lufthansa
8. KLM
9. Air Canada
10. Norwegian

While the top rated airlines between North America and Europe are:
1. Japan Airlines
2. Delta
3. Korean Air
4. ANA
5. Cathay Pacific
6. Air China
7. EVA Air
8. American Airlines
9. Air Canada
10. China Eastern Airlines
11. United Airlines

Read the full 2019 Airline International Destination Satisfaction Survey from J.D. Power here.

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand Wins ‘Airline Of The Year’ For The Sixth Time

Air New Zealand has officially been named “Airline of the Year” by, which is an Australian travel safety and review website that ranks the world’s top airports every year. Air New Zealand is no stranger to holding this title, as it’s long been praised as one of the nicest and safest airlines internationally. It also has held the “Airline of the Year” five other times; this year was a bit of a shock, however, as Singapore Airlines was looking to grab the honor for 2020, since they won the award last year, but at the last minute New Zealand snatched the crown from under them. 

The title was given to New Zealand this year in part because of their “record breaking performance as an airport” and “environmental leadership” compared to other airports sustainability efforts, according to the official statement

Embed from Getty Images

“In our analysis, Air New Zealand came out number one in most of our audit criteria, which is an outstanding performance when it’s up against carriers with more resources and scale on this same list of best airlines for 2020. Air New Zealand’s commitment to excellence in all facets of its business starts at the top with outstanding governance and one of the best executive teams in aviation through to a workforce that is delivering consistently to the airline’s strategy and customer promise,” said Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas in a press release.

According to the same press release, the Airline Excellence Awards are the most coveted titles in terms of aviation travel honors. The website is run by a total of seven editors and has employee’s that combined have over 200 years in the airline industry experience. The release states that the staff reviews every airline and bases their rankings and awards on 12 key criteria. The criteria includes overall passenger reviews/experiences, relationship amongst staff, age of the airline’s fleet, total company profitability, investment ratings and product offers. 

Representatives from the website have stated that Air New Zealand winning the title for a total of six times now is only a further testament to how hard the staff works and communicates with its passengers. The airport has over 12,500 employees, and every department has received stellar reviews on their perspective duties throughout the years. The award is a testament to department to department communication, something that has caused many other airports to dwindle in quality. 

Embed from Getty Images

The top five best Airlines named by the website are (from 1 to 5) Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Qantas, and Cathay Pacific Airways. In total the website annually ranks the “top 20” airlines every year, all based on the same criteria discussed above. 

In addition gives credit to other airlines based on more specific award titles; although “Airline of the Year” is equivalent to the “Album of the Year” title at the Grammy’s. Singapore Airlines was not only ranked number two for best airlines, but also took the First Class Award for their extensive and quality first class suite packages. 

Australia’s Qantas won Best Domestic Airline Service and the coveted Best Lounges. “Qantas is a consistent winner across many categories in our list of best airlines 2020, 2019, and more. Its customer approval rating is at an all-time high, and it continues to innovate with lie-flat beds being added to its A380s. The judges were unanimous on the airline’s lounges which are exceptional and its domestic airline product, particularly on transcontinental A330 flights, is a standout,” said Thomas

Other awards distributed included “Best Catering” and “Best Business Class” both of which were won by Qatar Airways. Virgin Airlines Australia won an award for “Best Economy Class” seating and Cebu Pacific won the “Most Improved Airline” award. Emirites also held a top ten spot for best airlines, and won awards for “Best Long-Haul Flights” and “Best In-Flight Entertainment.”


Thanksgiving Travel Expected To Be Highest on Record

With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner many families and friends are planning breaks away to spend time with their loved ones and airlines are anticipating record breaking levels of travel despite the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

An announcement by Airlines for America (A4A) has predicted this year’s Thanksgiving holiday to not only be the busiest time of this year but also in US commercial aviation history.

A major player in American aviation services, A4A represent the nine biggest US cargo and passenger carriers and have claimed over 3.1 million passengers will be traveling on the Sunday after the holiday meaning 1 December could be breaking records across the country.

After analysing the holiday period, A4A have claimed between 31.6 and 55 million passengers will be traveling throughout the 12 day holiday period, an increase of 2.7 per cent over the same period last year.

It is also expected load factors are to be between 79% and 91% for the period, with the official holiday break confirmed as being between Friday 22 November and Tuesday 3 December.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are expecting the busiest days for travel being Wednesday 27 November and Sunday 1 December, with the actual Thanksgiving Day being the quietest time to travel. In fact in order to reduce security line times various U.S. airlines have increased their offerings with a further 850 flights – or 108,000 seats – added to the schedules each day.

Embed from Getty Images

These increases have been predicted despite daily airline departures still being reduced significantly due to the grounding of the 737 Max in March this year following two fatal accidents. Currently 76 new aircraft have not been delivered as expected while 72 planes are still grounded meaning all airlines have had to put together new plans to keep up with demand, including retirements being delayed, holidays being postponed, schedules being restructured and maintenance being carried out where required.

John Heimlich, Vice President and Chief Economist of Airlines for America states, ‘airlines had to take greater measures to offset the Max issues.’

November and December are the busiest periods in the travel calendar however this year the daily departures are currently estimated to have a net reduction of 417 for November and 426 for December, which are higher than average. This is despite the increase over the holiday periods.

Clearly all airlines are keen to have the planes returning to active service with Mr Heimlich commenting on the long term effects the industry could suffer once they are in back in service:

‘It’s unlikely that the manufacturer will be able to deliver all those planes on day one. It will be phased in, and even at the airlines which have already taken delivery of Max aircraft, it will take some time to work them back in to the schedule. The market knows this is coming.’

Embed from Getty Images

The additional aircraft, and therefore extra flights, will be in demand during 2020. Currently the U.S. has a strong economy thanks in part to the constant growth in employment leading to more disposable income. Add to this the consistently low fares as well as consumer confidence at an all time high and the continuing increases in gross domestic product.

According to Boeing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are expected to award certification within the next 6 weeks, however this does not mean there is a specific date for the aircraft to return to our skies.

A4A recently published their industry review and have stated that around $18.1 billion was spent upgrading the metal for all the fleet renewal, satisfying demand, however if the Max had not been grounded the investment would have been nearer $19 billion. According to Heimlich that extra billion dollars should be deferred to the 2020 budge.

Domestic travel has continued to grow throughout the United States with passenger traffic in the first nine months of 2019 seeing an increase of 4 per cent compared to the same period in 2018. An average of 26,100 flights took off from U.S. airports each day via both American and foreign airlines, an increase of 2.7% from last year. The number of seats filled also increased with an extra 3.16 million sold, an increase of 3.5%.

If this has put you off the idea of flying home for the holidays you could drive, however the roads are expected to see around 49.3 million travellers heading to their families. These figures are a 2.8% increase on last year and the largest figures since 2005.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts a peak of traffic on Wednesday as most travelers try to beat the holiday rush. Yet mixed with the every day commuters trips can be expected to take up to four times as long, so make sure you pack enough supplies to keep you fed and watered.