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How The Airline Industry Is Preparing For Holiday Travel Season During A Pandemic




A Japan Airlines (JAL) agent checks in a passenger during the Covid-19 pandemic at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, November 18, 2020.
A Japan Airlines (JAL) agent checks in a passenger during the Covid-19 pandemic at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, November 18, 2020.
PATRICK FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

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As the holiday season approaches, many Americans are wrestling with the same question as they decide whether to travel to visit family or friends -- am I ready to fly again? 

Major U.S. airlines are hoping the answer to this question will be “yes” this holiday travel season, but it remains to be seen whether Americans will generally feel comfortable flying during a global pandemic. Currently there are no federal mandates for U.S. air travel, though there is talk of airlines considering requiring pre-flight testing for all passengers as a way to hopefully convince potential customers that it’s safe to fly.  The air travel industry has been gutted by the coronavirus, with airlines suffering massive job losses and being forced to drop routes across the country. But as the Wall Street Journal reports, not everyone is sitting back and waiting the pandemic out. No-frills carrier Southwest has taken the opportunity to try and capitalize on its competitors’ struggles by adding several new cities to its network with more on the horizon in 2021, though some say the moves have been opportunistic, and that it’s not the first time Southwest has engaged in that type of behavior.

Amid all the talk of job and revenue losses, the aviation industry did receive a bit of good news on Wednesday when the FAA announced that the Boeing 737 MAX, which had been grounded for 20 months after two crashes killed 346 people. FAA administrator Steve Dickson has said thanks to changes in training and plane software, the conditions that caused the crashes are now “impossible.” 

Today on AirTalk, we’ll check in on the latest headlines from the airline and air travel industry and talk about what travelers can expect if they’re planning to fly during the holidays.

Guests:

Leslie Josephs, reporter covering the airline industry for CNBC; she tweets @lesliejosephs

Alison Sider, reporter covering airlines for The Wall Street Journal; she tweets @alyrose