Today’s passengers and airport amateurs are like yesteryear’s holiday travelers

Travel today means crowds of first-time travelers, the older and slower passengers, and the inexperienced — just like the old holiday travel days.

airport amateursOver the years I’ve written more than one post about the difficulties of holiday air travel — the crowds, airport amateurs, the extra hassles, and more. Holiday travel has oversized carry-on bags packed with gifts. Everything keeps flight attendants extra busy.

Now, Americans are flying again. We’ve all been reminded how wonderful it is to be able to get on a plane and be with friends or family or just travel to different places. Whether it’s for business (still rare) or pleasure, the next several months at least may feel like one long holiday travel season. And all memories may not be joyful.

Crowds are back. So are airport amateurs, and planes are full. 

The number of people traveling may be exceeding pre-pandemic levels, yet the number of flights, along with airport staffing, has still been reduced. Which means lines. And since we had a break from it, those lines seem longer and worse.

TSA pre-check and Global Entry expire.

Get refunds in cash when airlines cancel your flightPeople may have had their TSA pre-check and Global Entry expire — often without notice. It happened to me after I mailed in my Global Entry application and fee in January 2020. While it was still being processed the airport offices shut down. I remember reading Global Entry and thus pre-check would be extended — mine stopped working on a weekend in Hawaii.

My clients and a family member all report similar stories. None of them were notified their memberships had expired. (In some cases Global Entry is renewed without an interview; in many others you have to go in to talk to a human.) Fortunately, at SFO in 2021, appointments became available on shorter notice than the several months it used to take. I got mine back.

Everyone’s an airport amateur again. 
airport amateurs

TSA Security Line

If you think people have forgotten how to drive, try dealing with TSA and airport security lines. There were some issues like belts and cellphones even in the pre-check lines I’ve been in. And the one regular line I was in after my Global Entry expired — at Maui’s Kahului Airport — would have been funny if many of us weren’t worried about missing flights.

Long lines are everywhere.

Remember those long lines at places like Starbucks for early morning flights? Well, now there are lines for food everywhere at airports. Some airport lounges and concessions haven’t reopened and some have even gone out of business. Plus, most airlines aren’t serving the same buy-on-board options they had in the past, if they are serving anything. (It’s a good idea to pack food if you can.)

The nervous travelers seem to be everywhere.

Just like holiday travel, today people may be excited about flying places, but they’re also often nervous and stressed. If you’ve traveled in the past during a time when it’s predominantly business travelers, while there are plenty of entitled folks on the road, they’re generally professional and know the drill. Add children, families, and occasional travelers to the mix and things change.

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How long will this love affair with travel last? Definitely through the summer!

Travel is definitely back and it’s back strong, despite increased pricing and extra charges for a variety of things like seat reservations and even carry-on baggage. Children are just about to get out of school, so let’s hope that airlines and airports get their schedules and staffing aligned with demand.

So, the short version for everyone planning to travel this season: pack patience. And a sense of humor. Both will serve you well and prepare you for today’s normal travel. It is just like it was back in the November and December 2019 holiday travel times!

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