American Airlines cancels many flights on Halloween weekend

Bella Lee, Staff writer

As COVID-19 quickly approaches its second birthday, the nation and the world have seen that even in the midst of a pandemic, the world has remained relatively normal.

Even with masks and social distancing in place, people around the world have continued to attend concerts, eat at restaurants and travel to visit their loved ones. However, there is still a reason to be concerned about a variety of things.

Oct. 31 was a particularly bad day for airline travelers, as American Airlines canceled almost 850 flights due to staff shortages and bad weather.

COVID-19 has been detrimental to many airline employees, who have been laid off or forced into early retirement due to lack of demand for workers.

Now that restrictions are loosening, there are a lot of travelers and not enough workers. This has caused a backlog that ultimately leads to situations such as the one that American Airlines faced.

On Halloween weekend alone, there were over 1,700 flight cancellations for American Airlines. However, the return of nearly 1,800 flight attendants from leave as well as 600 new hires seemed to help alleviate this problem.

This is not the only airline going through this. Southwest Airlines cancelled nearly 2,400 flights over a three-day period earlier in the month, blaming bad weather and air traffic control issues.

A major problem that airlines have been facing this year has been an increase in unruly passengers. When told to properly put on a mask or make sure their child is properly wearing a mask, more and more passengers are choosing to create scenes that, in the worst-case scenario, can turn violent and injure others.

Back in May, a Southwest Airlines flight attendant ended up losing two front teeth after being punched by a passenger that repeatedly refused to follow instructions. The passenger was ultimately charged with battery and causing serious bodily injury.

According to the Federal Aviation Association (FAA), there were roughly 2,500 reports of unruly passengers between Jan. 1 and May 24 of this year, with 1,900 of those reports involving people contravening the federal mask mandate.

The FAA recorded 394 potential “unruly passenger” violations through May 25, while 2019 and 2020 saw 146 and 183 violations, respectively.

According to the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, there have been growing problems with harassment and violence.

A survey conducted in 2018 revealed that more than one in three flight attendants have said they have experienced verbal sexual harassment from passengers, with nearly one in five experiencing physical sexual harassment.

Additionally, 68 percent of flight attendants stated that they saw no efforts from their airlines to address sexual harassment in the workplace in the year leading up to the survey.

These statistics are highly concerning, especially because it does not seem as if anything is being done about the non-compliant passengers.

Airline companies need to work on the safety of their passengers when flights get cancelled, but at the same time, they must also ensure the safety of their employees.