LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) – As travel continues to surge with more Americans getting vaccinated, a local couple says they were caught up in the pandemic-related staffing shortage impacting the airline industry.
With passengers returning to the skies in record numbers, some airlines are having difficulties keeping up with the heightened demand.
“I never thought I’d be so glad to see the Albany Airport as I was Monday morning,” said Laura Nolan.
Nolan, and her husband, both from East Greenbush, recently flew to St. Lucia for vacation. While their flights down to the Caribbean island had no issues, their return home was a different story.
“They pushed it to 4, then to 5, then to 6. This was all before our original depart time of 3 o’clock was to occur,” she said.
Ultimately, their flight, as well as three other American Airlines flights departing St. Lucia that day, were pushed to the next day.
“They said, yeah so there’s no way that we can get everybody accommodations for tonight, so you’re all going to stay here. So we were like, huh?” says Nolan.
What followed was a long night spent outside the airport’s ticket counters. Nolan says passengers were given limited snacks and water and resorted to sleeping on dirty clothes or the airport’s wheelchairs.
“I think the animals in the kennel were actually treated better than they treated their passengers at that point,” she said.
Nolan says she was told her flight was delayed because of staffing. Heading into this busy summer travel season, American Airlines had to cut flights to avoid overloading operations.
“There are a dozen excuses for why you canceled flights, but the number one cause was you didn’t have the pilots to fly the schedule that you promised to fly,” Dennis Tajer from the Allied Pilots Association explained.
Nolan says American Airlines gave her and her husband accommodations in Charlotte following their missed connection. She said they also offered 15,000 miles for the inconvenience.
We reached out to American Airlines but have not received a response yet.