Alaska Airlines Is Apologizing to Travelers for This One Reason
The airline has issued a statement to customers following a major problem.
With lower demand for air travel and newly added restrictions, the past couple years have been a volatile time for airlines amid the COVID pandemic. With the advent of effective vaccines, travel demand shot back up, but many U.S. airlines have struggled to keep up with the shifting trends. Recently, Alaska Airlines had to issue an apology to all of its travelers over one major problem. Read on to find out what the carrier is now promising to fix for future passengers.
Alaska Airlines is apologizing to travelers over recent cancellations.
On April 7, Alaska Airlines issued an apology to its customers over flight cancellations. The carrier said it had "let down some of [its] valued guests by canceling an unusual number of flights" at the beginning of the month.
"To all of you who were impacted, we are deeply sorry. We put you in a frustrating situation—most likely when you were looking to take a fun trip, family vacation or needed to get somewhere important to you," Alaska Airlines said in its statement. "We must do better. Over the last few days, we looked at how we got here, and are taking action to get back on track. We're committed to being the airline you love."
Alaska Airlines canceled hundreds of flights at the beginning of the month.
Alaska Airlines canceled nearly 200 flights in the first two days of April alone, The Points Guy reported on April 2. At that time, the airline acknowledged that was experiencing "significant flight cancellations" that were impacting more than 12,000 passengers. According to Alaska Airlines' later apology, a pilot shortage was one of the major issues driving these cancellations.
The carrier said that more than 10,000 pilots left the airline industry during the pandemic. And despite launching a new pilot academy, "training delays" still caused Alaska Airlines to end up with 63 fewer pilots to fly in April than the carrier had planned for in the beginning of this year when scheduling flights.
"When pilots come to Alaska Airlines, we want them to have the best training in the business. That takes time and cannot be rushed," Alaska Airlines said in its apology. "Unfortunately, during the first few months of 2022, a backlog built up in our training program. Trainings were canceled and delayed due to student or trainer illness during the Omicron surge and due to the operational impact of winter storms, and they were not rescheduled fast enough."
RELATED: For more travel news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
The airline will continue to drop flights for the next few months.
Despite apologizing for its recent high rate of flight cancellations, Alaska Airlines is still planning to reduce its total flight schedule by 2 percent through June 2022. But the carrier said that this is to "match [its] current pilot capacity" and is part of an effort to prevent even more cancellations through short-term corrections. "We are through the worst of the cancellations," the carrier assured.
According to Alaska, the flight reductions it has planned for the next few months will appear on its schedule that will be posted in mid-April. "In the meantime, reductions will show up as cancellations," the airline further explained. For passengers impacted by the upcoming cancellations, Alaska Airlines said it will send a "unique phone number" in a message that will connect them to someone who can help adjust their travel plans without an extended wait.
And Alaska is planning more changes to prevent cancellations down the line.
Alongside these short-term corrections, Alaska Airlines is hoping to get back on track by making other adjustments to prevent mass flight cancellations in the future. "Rest assured we're making immediate changes to ensure our guests can count on us to get them where they want to go," Alaska Airlines tweeted on April 7.
According to the carrier, these changes include improving pilot training graduation rates. Alaska Airlines said it plans to graduate more than 30 pilots in April and even more in May. "A dedicated team has been deployed to ensure training events are rescheduled faster and ensure we better match our schedule to the number of pilots we have available to fly," the airline explained. "We doubled the capacity of our pilot schoolhouse since the fall and are training more trainers."