Weather or Not!

Getting in touch with your patient side when traveling by air

By: Kim Bridger

If you fly often, you know the trials and tribulations of air travel as we know it today. There was a time not too long ago that a canceled flight was not that big a deal. The passengers who were stranded by the canceled flight would not be stranded for long. There would be another flight an hour-and-a-half later, and there would be plenty of empty seats.

Times have changed
Empty seats on most commercial flights these days are hard to come by. How many times in the past few years have you been walking onto a Southwest flight listening to a flight attendant say, “Folks, this is a full flight; please take the first available seat that you find”? Maybe you’ve heard an American or United flight attendant give you a similar warning about your carry-on luggage. After all, they’ll be happy to store it for you when all the overhead bins are full.

It’s no accident. The airlines carefully control capacity at the airports they serve. If they can closely match capacity (the number of seats they offer) with demand (the number of you wanting to go somewhere), they are maximizing the use of each airplane they fly. And this tightened capacity is one of the factors that makes bad weather days so difficult to maneuver.

Case and point
In late February and early March, when Dallas was getting hit repeatedly by severe winter weather, customers at Corpus Christi International Airport (CCIA) were feeling the crunch. There were several days when practically every flight to and from DFW was canceled. In the midst of this winter weather chaos came several days of heavy fog in the Coastal Bend. The fog led to delays and more cancellations, this time due to adverse weather here at home.

I overheard a customer in the CCIA terminal saying, “This is third day I’ve been here trying to get out. And it doesn’t look like I will get out today.” A friend of mine got stranded in Dallas and decided to rent a car and drive back to her home north of Omaha. There’s not one thing to envy about that situation. But it is pretty clear that she got home earlier by driving than she would have if she had flown.

Here’s where we do the reality check. We may be willing to take risks in our 401(K) or while playing blackjack in Vegas. But do any of us want the airlines to take risks flying when things are just too treacherous out there? The answer is universally no. As aggravating as it can be to experience these weather-related hurdles, there is very little that customers or airports can do about it when it happens.

There are just a few things we know for certain about traveling these days. We know that most flights we get on will be full. We know that if we want more legroom or need to check bags on most airlines, we will pay fees for that. We know that there are things we will have to do when we go through TSA screening that we didn’t have to do prior to 9/11. And we also know that if severe weather strikes in a region we are headed to or through or in our airline’s major hub city, our flights may be delayed or canceled.

Being armed with this information and accepting the realities of air travel these days does not make the journey any less frustrating at times. But at least we know that the airlines are taking care of business and taking care of us, too.

Wishing you safe travels this spring and summer! If you need to get away, remember that flying out of your hometown airport helps to create the kind of demand that will help us grow our air service in the future. Shop around! Compare prices! And don’t forget to include the cost of your time, gas and added headaches when planning that long drive to other airports to catch your flight.

The next time you are looking at airfare from multiple airports, plug your numbers in to the Trip Calculator on the CCIA website at flyccia.com. You just might discover that CCIA is the best deal around.

 

Kim Bridger is the marketing manager at CCIA. For more information, you may contact her at kimb@cctexas.com.

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