Air travel is rebounding, but short-term mayhem means airlines and business travelers alike still have hurdles to overcome
By: Keith Loria
Canceled flights are making headlines, and they are causing major operational headaches for business travel, both during travel and post-trip. That’s why it’s more important than ever for travel programs to prepare to deal with disruption challenges.
An April survey from the SAP Concur organization of 1,000 US business travelers revealed that 89 percent have been forced to take unexpected steps recently because of difficulty booking transportation and lodging for business trips. Much of this chaos was created by cancellations, delays, missed connections and uneven capacity.
In the early days of the pandemic, disruptions were very much driven by near-complete demand destruction as carriers dismantled their networks and schedules. As demand recovery picked up steam, bringing back network and frequencies proved to be challenging at times, mostly due to lack of available staff, both in the air and on the ground.
Looking back at fourth quarter 2021, Erik Shor, chief partnership officer, North America, for Corporate Travel Management, notes that demand spiked with airlines and airports attempting to staff back up. Then the omicron variant hit right in the middle of the December holidays, and airlines found themselves with elevated absentee rates leading to significant disruptions.