The holiday season traditionally ushers in a surge in air travel, and with the industry rapidly rebounding, there’s an increased demand for flights during this festive time. With an astonishing 67.7% increase in overall traffic in August 2022, something changed as air travel rebounded to 73.7% of its pre-crisis levels globally. This has been attributed in part to new realities. The more flexible working arrangements and remote work options that have become a norm for many have contributed to a shift in travel patterns. As a result, the travel period that was once characterized by a decline before COVID has now become busier, right-on time for this upcoming winter season of flying. It is good then for passengers to remember certain truths about airlines operating during this time that can help to avoid unnecessary stress during the holiday travel rush.
In the U.S. it is anticipated that on the Sunday following Thanksgiving 48 % of American adults, up from 43% in 2022, expect to take a vacation for the winter. After a protracted period of delays due to COVID-19 lockdowns, transport experts in Europe predicted the busiest Christmas travel season in 2022, and the same remains for 2023. The first reminder is that the aviation industry has always operated within stringent regulations, and these regulations have become even more critical as travel demand soars. Issues related to scheduling flights, pilot rest, delays, and airplane safety protocols during the winter season are all strictly regulated in terms of compliance by aviation authorities. Jainita Hogervorst, Director of Aerviva Aviation Consultancy, a Dubai-based international consultancy specialising in aviation recruitment and document management, notes “These regulations are designed to ensure the safety of passengers and crew, and it is crucial to adhere to them.”
Winter flight conditions are not unusual for aircraft. Airlines typically advise passengers to book early, pack lightly, avoid travel on peak days, and expect delays during travel based on unforeseen circumstances. However, winter flight conditions require a keen eye for detail and specialized understanding. Airline pilots and flight attendants must deal with bad weather, slippery runways, unruly passengers, and other cold-weather-related problems as part of their work around the holidays. To this end, it is important that they stay up to date with the latest winter training and broaden their knowledge. One aspect of this is some general cross-training for both the flight and ground crew to better familiarise themselves with AMM Procedures (de-icing) and FCOM (Flight Crew Operating Manual) content. Moreover, up-to-date information on winter operations, via consistent communication between airlines, pilots, and the rest, and airport flight control ensure the safety of passengers.
In navigating the holiday rush, such proper preparation is key to avoiding unnecessary stress. “Both pilots and flight attendants prioritise adherence to safety regulations, thorough pre-flight preparations, and continuous training to handle winter conditions effectively in tandem with their airlines and airports,” emphasizes Hogervorst. The final reminder is that the rules of the game evolve, and adaptability is the key to success during winter months to ensure all passengers reach their destinations with peace of mind. By staying informed, adhering to safety regulations, and embracing adaptability, airlines can ensure a less stressful holiday travel memory.