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US airline staffing is at its ‘highest level’ in decades. So why the flight delays?

4 min read
US airline staffing is at its ‘highest level’ in decades. So why the flight delays?

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In travel news this week: Wild weather around the world and “unacceptable delays” for American plane passengers. Plus we hear from a woman who broke up with her boyfriend on vacation and moved in with a man she’d known for three weeks.

Extreme weather

Heat waves, wildfires, floods and storms have been hitting regions across North America, Europe and Asia. Thrill-seeking tourists headed to China’s “Flaming Mountains” to experience land-surface temperatures of up to 80 C (176 F), while tennis-ball-sized hailstones injured more than 100 people in northern Italy.

As Southern Europe struggles with a heat dome that’s turned it into “a giant pizza oven,” tourism operators are seeing a “surge in popularity” for more temperate or less crowded destinations, such as Ireland, Denmark, Bulgaria and Czech Republic.

If you find yourself traveling in a heat wave zone this summer, here’s what you need to know.

Air travel woes

US passenger airline employment is now at its highest level in over two decades, says a new statement from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as carriers build up their workforces to meet the huge demand for post-pandemic travel.

However, passengers this summer are still facing “unacceptable delays and disruptions” because of a shortage of air traffic controllers in North America. The IATA, an industry association that represents the world’s airlines, is blaming that squarely on “poor planning” by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and NAV Canada, the Canadian air navigation services provider. But outdated technology, airline staffing issues and bad weather are also playing into recent air traffic meltdowns, CNN has previously reported.

There were more woes as medical teams were called to a passenger plane on the tarmac in Las Vegas to treat “heat-related discomfort,” and an emergency evacuation slide from a United flight fell into a Chicago neighborhood.

If all this has got you wistful for a bygone “golden age of air travel,” however, you’d be very wrong. When it comes to safety, accessibility and affordability, we’ve never had it so good.

Time for a stiff drink

A bar in Hong Kong has just been named the Best Bar in Asia for the third year in a row. Coa, helmed by Jay Khan, focuses on the mezcal and agave spirits that are so hot right now.

Other stimulating properties have been attributed to the wild mushrooms that were enjoyed by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s visit to a Beijing restaurant earlier this month. The jian shou qing mushroom is a popular delicacy in Yunnan, and Yellen was said to have ordered four portions of them – although the fungi is listed as poisonous because of its hallucinogenic potential.

And a love story or two

Belgian traveler Liesbet Collaert was driving across North America in a camper van with her long-term boyfriend when she met a stranger from California. Within three weeks, she’d fallen in love, broken up with her boyfriend and moved into her new love’s apartment. That was 2004. Here’s how the next 20 years worked out.

A few years earlier, in Egypt in 1996, Englishwoman Christina Ward was working as a tour guide on the Nile River. She met a local man, Wahid Kandil, working on the same tour boat. His marriage proposal came within six months.

Best beauty products for travel

It’s one of life’s saddest ironies that when you’re frizzy-haired and greasy-skinned from a day of nonstop sightseeing, you end up appearing in a full year’s quota of photographs because you’re on your big vacation.

Our partners at CNN Underscored, a product reviews and recommendations guide owned by CNN, understand your pain. That’s why they’ve put together this list of their 21 best beauty products for travel in 2023, so you can face that next camera with a smile.

One of the world’s most unusual runways

Scotland’s windswept island of Barra has the only airport in the world where scheduled flights land on a beach. Here’s how pilots touch down on this unique runway.

In case you missed it

She got a job on a superyacht, cooking up dishes for the international elite.

Here’s what happened next.

What it’s like to be an American living in Paris.

Dreams can come true, but how does the reality compare with the fantasy?

Our guide to weird and wonderful trains that break the rules.

Railway technology is more versatile than you think.

A sea otter has become a notorious surfboard thief.

The spree may be down to “hormonal surges.” Watch here.

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