Lifted travel bans and staff shortages create panic and anticipation for the holiday season

The upcoming holiday season is filled with the anticipation of reconnecting with loved ones, however, airlines may not be able to meet expectations.


Chloe Gaudelet '24

Travel increases to pre-pandemic levels as countries lift travel restrictions.

As the holiday season approaches, ongoing staff shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions continue to impact domestic and international travel, causing complications for people who want to visit their loved ones.  However, with the return of domestic travel and the loosening of travel restrictions across the globe, citizens hope to reconnect with their families this year.

Due to European and South American travel bans preventing admission into the United States, sophomore Ana Patricio has not been able to visit her grandparents in Portugal and Panama for the past two years.  Usually, Ana’s family sees each other three times every year.  Travel bans have disrupted her family’s annual holiday traditions. 

“I’ve been very dependent on communicating with my family who lives internationally through technology and social media,” said Ana. “I’m afraid that I’m going to become too dependant on connections through a screen with my family than real human connection.”

The San Francisco International Airport is empty during the coronavirus lockdown.  Courtesy of Ms. Anastasiia Sapon

While the international travel industry is recovering slowly, domestic travel rates are returning to pre-pandemic levels. A sudden influx of travelers combined with a large decrease in airline staff is generating chaos.  Companies are failing to adjust to normal productivity with fewer employees.  Therefore, airlines encourage families to plan far ahead for holiday travel this year, according to The New York Times.

There were over 2,000 cancellations or delays for Southwest Airlines flights during the week of October 11.  The cancellations left thousands of passengers stranded at airports.  Some travelers had little to no food resources in some city airports because of closed concession stands and restaurants according to The Washington PostAs the November 11 deadline for all federal workers to reach full vaccination status nears, panic regarding holiday travel is increasing as 40 percent of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees remain unvaccinated according to

However, as the world continues to reopen, families who have been separated as a result of the pandemic have had the opportunity to reunite.  The Biden Administration opened the country’s land borders to fully vaccinated international travelers from Mexico and Canada, November 8.  Previously, travelers from other countries did not have a solidified date for permitted travel to the United States according to The New York Times.  Additionally, American citizens’ ability to travel internationally has dramatically increased even after a summer surge of the Delta variant of the coronavirus. 

Prior to France reopening their borders to fully vaccinated Americans, Mr. Alexandre Gaudelet P‘24, a native french citizen and current American resident, was the only member of his family permitted to travel to France.  Mr. Gaudelet has not been able to visit his parents and brothers since the spread of the coronavirus.  He plans to travel to France with his family this holiday season.  

Ms. Svenja Ostwald and her two daughters greet their grandmother from Germany at Kennedy Airport.  Courtesy of Mr. Tony Cenicola

“It is heartbreaking to not be able to enjoy my family’s company, especially as our loved ones grow old and will not be on earth much longer,” said Mr. Gaudelet. “Any available time spent with them is so valuable.”

Sophomore Caroline Hartch and her family have been unable to visit her aunt and cousins for three years due to lockdown protocols in Germany and the United States.  Caroline reflected on the value of quality time with family, especially elders. 

“My family and I have been catching up with them through technology however, it is never comparable to seeing them in person and hearing their real voices,” said Caroline. “Not seeing my cousins for an extended period of time is especially hard because they have changed so much.  My cousin who was 12 when I last visited is now 15.”

Despite this difficulty, Caroline has grown to further appreciate the value of quality time with family.  Caroline advises families who have been separated because of the pandemic to cherish their future time together after being separated.  

“Through the coronavirus pandemic, I have learned to forever prioritize and value the time with family we have because you never know what could occur and take it all away,” said Caroline.

Featured Image by Chloe Gaudelet ’24