Updated: Jul 14, 2022
Unless you’ve been on the moon these past few months I’m sure you have heard that air travel right now is a mess… you may even have experienced it yourself? It sure isn’t what it should be, how it used to be, and for now there are few signs of it getting better any time soon just as we hit peak season and everyone is desperate to travel and make up for these last two lost years.
Last month the biggest problem I personally encountered was a shortage of crew, both pilots and cabin, flight after flight trying to work two jobs (not the pilots of course!) so that our customers could have that experience, that flight they had been looking forward to for so long, because that’s the sort of people we are, we care about you! It’s no one’s fault, the airlines are recruiting as fast as they can, but did you know that it takes up to six weeks to train newbies, that’s after a grueling selection process that no one wants to scrimp on lest they pay the price of recruiting the wrong people in the long term?! Once trained then it is taking weeks to get IDs processed because, guess what? The people who do the checks, and the people who process the IDs, well they are understaffed too. The whole world, it seems, is understaffed, and no industry more so than aviation. From the cleaners to the caterers, the ground agents and the lounge staff, everyone is working double hard, and now when I check in for a flight I see that my colleagues are exhausted from flight after flight of working like this… and yet they still turn up and still do their best, whatever the best is that they can do on that particular day.
Last night my flight in from JFK was delayed by over two hours, our plane was late leaving Heathrow like almost every other flight yesterday. We took off in the middle of the night and so many people missed their connections. For some it will now be tomorrow, or even the day after that they get where they are going, and yet I was touched by how graciously they took the news when it was delivered, and how they put their trust in the ground staff to look after them in the meantime. Thankfully the majority accept that it’s not just our airline, it’s everyone, and there is nothing much we can do about it!
…and for some it doesn’t stop there. Land at the wrong time of day and the queues to get through immigration are the biggest I have ever seen. Guess what? They are understaffed too😅 As we hit the summer peak and the planes are full, the airports cannot cope with the numbers and we find ourselves abandoning those passengers we have just spent the night looking after to the chaos of the arrivals hall. I will often get in my car wondering if the man in 54a made his connection, or if the passengers that needed assistance have had help yet… Did the bags ever turn up on the baggage belt, the baggage handlers were short staffed that morning too? (They were fine today by the way, but the piles of cases at the edge of the hall are testament to the ongoing battle)….I’m so grateful that I can scoot down the staff aisle when I’m working, and I never check a case these days in a bid to keep my own day as easy as I can.
On Saturday it is my turn😳! I’m off on my holidays and no staff line for me! I can’t help being nervous that I will have to be in one of those queues, that my bag won’t turn up when I get to Rome…but I just hope for the best and, like my passengers, I will be gracious to all the staff I cross paths with and accept that what will be will be!
If you are flying soon yourself I wish you all the best, and if perhaps you don’t get the service you are expecting, the one that you had pre pandemic, just know that everyone is doing the best that they can. The whole world is short staffed, be kind to the ones that showed up. Hopefully it will get better soon.🥰