Chicago Airlines

Travelers Look for Answers as Staffing Issues, Other Problems Cause Trouble at Airports

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After thousands of flights were canceled or delayed nationwide over the weekend, Chicago-area travelers say that they experienced a myriad of problems at the city’s airports.

In addition to the flight issues, some travelers said that they have recently had problems simply picking up their bags once they arrived at their destination.

“When the bags got in, apparently there was no one to drive the cart from the tarmac back to here,” Mark Mitchell, who flew into Midway recently, said. “So it was raining, and when they finally got here, they were all just drenched.”

According to the FAA, more than 3,000 flights were canceled over the weekend, with airlines dealing with staffing shortages, bad weather and higher fuel prices.

Ed Skolnik says that he waited for several hours for his bags to arrive once he arrived in Chicago, with employees telling him that staffing issues were part of the reason for the delays.

“A lot of people were talking, and seemed upset that their bags weren’t being delivered,” he said. “On Sunday nights, they don’t have enough employees, and the last time I talked to the guy he was walking around. He said ‘this always happens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday after 9 p.m.’”

Southwest Airlines, who operates primarily out of Midway in Chicago, issued a statement saying that they are working to combat staffing issues, hiring thousands of new employees this year.

“We’ve hired more than 14,500 employees in the past 12 months to support the travel experience, and we’re on track to hire more than 10,000 Southwest employees in 2022,” the company said. “As a result, since the beginning of May, Southwest has posted solid operational reliability in terms of flight completions and a cancellation rate among the lowest of ranked carriers.”

Skolnik says that he hopes that in the future, airlines will do a better job not just of ensuring smooth flights and arrivals, but also of communicating if any issues arise.

“Things happen, but some announcement from Southwest…would have been really helpful,” he said.

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