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Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024

Crowded Planes, Lost Baggage Pushing Travelers Onto the Open Road

Frequent flier is not a term I use to describe myself. Next-time-I’m-driving flier, that’s me. Traveling like a sardine only to suffer jet lag when it’s over isn’t my idea of a good time. Give me the open road. You never hear anyone saying, “I have car lag.”

Nevertheless, queuing up to wait in line at Lindbergh Field to catch one of Southwest’s fly-on-a-Tuesday-or-Wednesday-and-save-big-bucks routes in early June, I told myself that I couldn’t afford not to fly.

Not at those prices, which is what everyone else must have thought because there wasn’t an empty seat on the plane.

Southwest ordinarily gets passengers on and off fast , a quick turnaround time it’s called. But the airline hadn’t factored in demand for the summer special since flights were late, coming and going, and the reason given was they were spending more time on the ground.

The Dallas-based air carrier wasn’t alone. Nationwide, major airlines reported that 29 percent of all flights were delayed in June, the worst it’s been for a June since 2000, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation. With 75.3 percent of its flights arriving on time in June, Southwest was ranked fifth, behind Hawaiian Airlines in first, followed by Aloha, SkyWest and Pinnacle airlines.

The statistics for July and August aren’t expected to show any improvement, industry analysts say.

Not only are flights being delayed, many are getting canceled, and a number of things are to blame, including increased air traffic and equipment problems.

En route back to San Diego, a fuel sensor on our plane was deemed dysfunctional. A replacement plane was found, and it added to the overall delay, but didn’t result in a cancellation. So we were lucky.

“More peanuts anyone?”

“Don’t mind if I do.”

An increase in mishandled baggage is another issue the DOT said, adding that consumer complaints against air carriers rose in June compared to the same month last year.

You think?

According to an air traffic report for San Diego International Airport in May , the most recent available , the total passenger tally was up 3.9 percent to 1.5 million compared to May 2006 and also up 2.8 percent to 7.2 million year to date.

That includes people flying in and out of the airport.

The biggest jump was made in the category of international travel, which rose 8.6 percent in May, to 24,001 passengers compared to 22,106 in May 2006.

Between January and the end of May, the international passenger count was 111,700, up 5.2 percent from the same time frame in 2006. As a fraction of the whole, however, that count is minimal since San Diego is not a hub airport.

The amount of cargo flown in and out was off 16 percent to 12,499 tons in May and off 8.4 percent to 59,962 tons year to date in May.

The number of aircraft operations, meaning takeoffs and landings, was down 0.8 percent to 18,757 in May and down 0.1 percent to 89,899 year to date through May.

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Going Leaner And Greener:

A new restaurant serving only organic fare, Lean and Green plans to open its doors on Fay Avenue in La Jolla on Aug. 13. Additionally, the environmentally-conscious restaurant says it will use only “eco-friendly” packaging and products which are renewable, sustainable, compostable and biodegradable.

Send tourism and hospitality industry news to Connie Lewis by e-mail:


. She may also be reached at (858) 277-6359.


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