CLEVELAND — This summer travel season will look very different from last summer. Airlines are filling seats on planes and countries are starting to reopen to travelers. But there is some concern that airport infrastructure may not keep up.
Airlines like American and United face staffing shortages and the Transportation Security Administration is trying to hire 6,000 people.
"The airlines continue to cancel flights, combine schedules," said local travel agent Kathy Yarian about the impact of staffing issues for airlines in the country. "Their flight was either canceled and they've been rebooked for the next day, they've been rebooked for several hours later. That's really frustrating."
In the last six months, travelers spent more than $21 billion flying in the country, which means airports are busier than this time last year.
Ethan and Lena Bogs were looking for their bags after flying to Cleveland from Mississippi. With a connection through Atlanta-Hartfield, Ethan Bogs said he could see the difference.
"It was really crowded everywhere," he said. "It seems like there are a lot of people here as well."
The airline industry lost hundreds of thousands of workers during the pandemic, and the current lag in hiring may make leaving for a summer vacation slower.
"A tight connection is your worst enemy," Yarian said, adding that with more planes and less staff, the turnaround time for cleaning the planes may be longer.
But, Yarian said timings should pick up for business travel this fall.
"I am very ready for it to be over. And I see the light at the end of the tunnel," Yarian said. "We are very excited."
A spokesperson for Cleveland-Hopkins would not comment on staffing at the airport but said they expect more than 2 million travelers this summer.