Dear Airport Terminal, It Is Time To Open Up!

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Why Is So Much Stuff Still Closed At The Airport?

I recently finished up my trip to Alaska, a trip that I shared I was a little nervous about. I was mainly nervous because I felt rusty, and travel is turbulent right now meaning rusty is not what you want to be.  Everything ended up going off without a hitch and I will have some articles coming out about the trip over the next week. We will talk about it on this week’s podcast as well.  One thing I did notice, which surprised me, was there was still so much closed at the airport.  And even things that were open had more limited hours or it seemed to be like staggered openings etc. across the airport.

Location Matters

No doubt that the location of the airport and the current local laws matter for sure.  Some airports could be 100% open by now but I know from others that many are not, including my own Detroit Metro Airport. I also noticed the same issues upon arrival in Anchorage as well.

I am not entirely sure if this is still because of protocols but if that is the reasoning then it makes absolutely no sense to me.  If you want to do social distancing etc. then how does funneling people to less locations help that?

It reminds me of when the airports here in Michigan were allowed to only do takeout meals. People were allowed to buy food and then would have to go to the gate to eat it.  Or even worse, on the tight confines of the airplane.  How does having people eat stuff not at the restaurant make things better?  You can control spacing at the restaurant and the areas will be cleaned a heck of a lot more often then out in the terminal. As we have all learned over the last year or so, the rules don’t always make sense. Keeping stores and restaurants limited in the airport is another such instance.

shanghai travel
Shanghai Pudong International Airport

What About Staffing?

Another potential issue could of course be staffing. We see now hiring signs at most food establishments these days, especially in the fast food space.  That could be playing a role for sure.  But as we saw with Resorts World, where over 1,000 people applied for only a few hundred jobs, it isn’t always the case.

I think staffing could play a role but I don’t think it is the overall cause of this issue.  There are stores sitting full of merchandise but producing absolutely no income.  I would hope the business would be willing to entice workers enough to get those cash registers humming again.  Less of something is better than all of nothing.

Travel Is On The Rise And Is About To BOOM!

Schools are letting out and the travel itch is stronger than ever.  What does that mean? A furious increase of travel, and a bumpy ride overall, as demand will outpace the current availability, staffing levels and overall capacity.

We have seen airlines and hotels slow to keep up with demand, just as they were slow to ramp down last year.  It is evident that the airports are falling victim to that same thing. We are at about 70%-75% the travel levels of 2019 and that is without much in the way of business travel.  That means this is a majority of leisure travel and that will only grow once summer is in full swing.

The airports already had long lines and full tables when humming at 100% in 2019, now we are going to be looking at similar numbers with less capacity available? And you wonder why people are losing their minds at airports and on airlines these days.

Final Thoughts

I am surprised to see so many closures at airports still to this day with the level of travelers continuing to rise.  My fear is that once we hit the numbers we were at in 2019, which I think could happen over the next few months, it is gonna be a cluster cluck (😉) at the airports.

We already have to deal with 4 hour hold times, insane hotel prices, less airline seats available to travelers and now airports that are still partially shuttered.  Those credit card lounge perks may be more valuable than ever the rest of the year!

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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14 COMMENTS

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14 COMMENTS

  1. It seems airports and airplanes will be the last places to return to normal. Staffing might be a big piece of the puzzle for vendors at airports but it is more likely to be just financial. If you close down a shopping mall for a year it might take awhile to come back and stores to re-open even if it is full of people. Airports have a captive audience so stores and restaurants will eventually re-open but some brands will never open again and new vendors will have to be found. The retail and food service sectors took a brutal hit during covid. As we re-enter the post-covid era some things will slowly re-open but vendors also want to be sure that the Summer travel surge is going to last once schools re-open. In addition with massive inflation and higher minimum wage standards food vendors with low margins will struggle to fully staff so that will result in long lines. Other parts of the economy are being slow walked into being allowed to open or at least de-masked so we aren’t there yet.

  2. I think that the problem is staffing. The well-meaning unemployment benefit boost made it so that people could make around $15 an hour for playing Xbox rather than working in an airport for the same or sometimes less money than that. Add in a general upheaval of the labor market due to Covid and things will settle down if no other unexpected problems pop up.

    • Gonna be a rough summer I think because of this. I usually don’t put a ton of value into lounge access but that may change for the time being for me.

        • They have the smaller lounges closed at my airport but the main one was open and fully staffed. So less than normal but there are also less people in them with the lack of business travelers.

    • Carl, if that gets your blood pumping this much I would hate to be your doctor 🙂 😉

      Fixed – thanks

  3. Why would anyone want to go work in an airport terminal when the government will pay you $25 an hour stay home? Check back in September/October when the free money runs out.

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