TAMPA, Fla. -- Dr. Juan Carlos Sanchez and his family were in Puerto Rico recently for a funeral.

A veterinarian who lives in Brandon, Sanchez said he received an email from his airline shortly before his return trip that his flight back to Florida had been canceled.

The airline offered no further explanation.

On this episode of To The Point Already, Spectrum Bay News 9 anchors Rick Elmhorst and Roy De Jesus talk airline travel delays with travelers, airport officials and an economic professor. And Roy De Jesus even details his own recent travel nightmare.

"We (were) trying to get other flights. We rushed to the airport," Sanchez said, describing the chaos that followed before he eventually secured a flight back to Florida a day later. "People were sleeping in the halls of the airport. Families were stranded."

Last weekend, more than 3,500 US flights were canceled nationwide and thousands more were delayed. This scenario is not all that uncommon to anyone traveling recently.

So is it just weather, more people flying and strained airline staffing causing the issues?

Somewhat, said Tampa International Airport Vice President of Operations Adam Bouchard.

"(The) National Airspace System as a whole is an ecosystem of so many pieces that have to go right," Bouchard said. "That's the challenge as to why you see this uptick of delays and cancellations when we see bad weather and the persistence of that for several days of airlines to recover."

During the pandemic, it was a less busy time for most people and now travel demand has roared back. So that, combined with a variety of industry and economic issues, are all hitting at once.

"Any kind of change in the economy will have a spill over, a ripple effect in other parts of the economy" said Dr. Michael Snipes, a University of South Florida economics professor. "If we have labor shortages in the US, or trouble hiring people in a specific sector and if that sector provides services to the airline industry or fuel prices (issues), those are ripple effects that will affect the airline industry."

In the mean time, stick to the tried and true offerings, arrive early for your flight and stay in touch with your airline throughout your trip.


Spectrum Bay News 9 anchor Rick Elmhorst sits down with the people that represent you, the people fighting for change and the people with fascinating stories to ask the hard questions.