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Flying commercially in 2023 is a gamble

January 21, 2023

Each year, Elite Jets Executive Vice President Stephen Myers offers an expert opinion about the state of air travel. His 2023 analysis looks at flying commercially and what passengers can expect. 

These days, it’s a gamble when flying commercially whether your flight will leave on time... or at all. 

Air travel in 2023, unfortunately, will be just as unpredictable as the last few years. Passengers can book flights months in advance and confirm seat assignments. Just days or even hours before departure, though, airlines can cancel flights with little or no explanation. 

During December’s holiday rush, Southwest Airlines’ failures led to the cancelation of more than 15,000 flights from Dec. 22 to 29. It meant people could not see their loved ones for Christmas or enjoy a much-needed vacation. It meant people could not return to work on time. It meant people had to rent cars and drive through the night to reach their destinations. 

Southwest wasn't the first airline to experience a major meltdown. In fact, most of the major carriers and budget airlines have faced a travel crisis since 2020. 

READ MORE: Commercial air travel hits turbulence as airline industry rebounds 

Flying Commercially: Six Issues to Watch 

In 2023, six issues will impact whether booking flights on commercial airlines will continue being a gamble for passengers:  

  • Staffing: At the pandemic’s outset, airlines laid off, furloughed or offered early retirement to thousands of pilots, flight attendants and crew. Many employees opted to change careers, leaving airlines short-staffed once travel rebounded. 
  • Computers: Airlines, like all businesses, rely on computers to function. Computer glitches or outages are not isolated to one flight or airport. They can have a domino effect and impact an airline’s worldwide operation, bringing travel to a standstill. 
  • Business philosophy: For decades, airlines have overbooked flights. The practice increases per-flight revenue because a handful of customers typically cancel or fail to arrive on time. When they all show up, though, airlines have no choice but to bump passengers to a later flight. 
  • Weather: Foul weather in a city can prevent jets from departing or arriving. Those delays can have crippling effects in places where the weather is perfect. 
  • Fees: Consumers are pushing back against fees that inflate ticket prices. Airlines charge extra for seat assignments, baggage, boarding priority, overhead bin spaces, legroom, snacks and beverages. What used to be a perk now costs extra. 
  • Sickness: With staffing at precariously low levels, any outbreaks of the flu or resurgence of COVID-19 can further strain the airlines’ workforce. 

With commercial travel being a roll of the dice, it’s entirely possible that many Americans will forgo potential complications on shorter routes and simply drive to their destination. AAA predicted a 2% increase in the number of people driving to their holiday destinations in 2022. That equates to 2 million people. Meanwhile, affluent travelers continue booking private jets for leisure and business travel. That option virtually guarantees a stress-free, on-time arrival. 

The new year always brings a sense of hope and renewal. Whether airlines can flip the page and make adjustments remains to be seen. 

About the Author 

Stephen Myers, CAM, is a graduate of Naples High School and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in neurobiology from the University of Florida. Through Kennesaw State University, he earned certification as a Computer Forensics Examiner with specialties in data encryption and security. 

Stephen’s career began as an entrepreneur in the tech industry, founding companies that provided IT services, commercial-use drones and accessories, drone pilots, computer forensics, e-commerce solutions, intelligent building automation and more. He holds FAA certificates as an airline transport pilot and drone pilot, and regularly pilots charter flights aboard luxury Phenom 300 and Legacy 500 jets. Stephen oversees day-to-day operations at Elite Jets, including flight scheduling, aircraft maintenance, IT, sales, marketing and community relations. He also oversees training and safety initiatives, as well as compliance with FAA regulations. Under his leadership, Elite Jets was one of just 50 businesses statewide named as a 2021 “Company to Watch” by GrowFL. 

READ MORE: Elite Jets’ Stephen Myers selected for Leadership Florida program 

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