Another hectic day in the skies as airlines in the U.S. cancel hundreds more flights and delay thousands after an already hellish couple weeks.
Since the start of April, U.S. airlines have canceled more than 8,500 flights, according to FlightAware.
JetBlue, Southwest and Spirit Airlines are the biggest culprits as Alaska comes off a pilot strike, in part, prompted by staffing issues.
"They may not want to say that, but they're having staffing issues. We've had several pilots leave for other airlines because the quality of life issues at this company," Alaska Airlines Captain Steve Van Metre said.
And JetBlue is struggling to keep up with a rebounded schedule and, like many airlines, it's finding itself with too few workers.
Many, like those at Alaska, are demanding better working conditions.
"We will always run a very safe airline and that's our focus, but we also want to be home with our families and have better quality of life," Van Metre continued.
JetBlue's leadership is getting flak for its multi-billion-dollar attempt to outbid Frontier on a plan to merge with Spirit Airlines, while at the same time, struggling to run its own operation.
Across the industry, airlines are scrambling to build back route networks to pre-pandemic activity. But they're finding shallow benches of pilots, flight attendants, reservations agents and others able to handle the workload.
JetBlue is joining a host of other major airlines offering bonuses to crew members who don't call out sick. But it isn't enough to keep major carriers from slashing summer flights.
JetBlue is scrapping 10% of its schedule, scaling back to steady the boat all while the cost of travel climbs.
"Higher demand this year than previous years because of the pent up COVID demand. And the second is higher jet fuel prices. Jet fuel this year is 75% more expensive than it was this time last year," said Hayley Berg, economist at Hopper.
Experts say to plan flexibility into your summer travel and if you have credits from COVID cancellations laying around — use them.
"Right now U.S. consumers are sitting on about $10 billion in unused vouchers and credits," said Kevin Brasler, Consumers Checkbook Executive Editor.
Use them before you lose them, even if it won't exactly be smooth skies ahead.
"They're clearly hoping people forget about these credits and don't use them so they can keep the money," Brasler continued.