NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Sunday created the perfect storm for travel headaches across Nashville between winter weather, COVID-19 staffing shortages, and a busy commute the day after New Year’s.
According to Flight Aware, Nashville International Airport had just under 48 flight cancelations on top of the more than 2,500 cancellations nationwide.
Commercial Airline Captain Chris Hardee said although Nashville is equipped to clear runways during winter weather, it can be more difficult to deal with accumulation in the South. Northern airports see and handle snow accumulation more often. He said lengthy winter events can especially take a toll.
He explained the ripple effect weather not only here, but across the country, could have over the next several days.
“Sometimes that means preemptively canceling or delaying flights to avoid the bad weather. Because sometimes you have an airplane that has a complex schedule for the day. You know, an airplane might fly to seven or eight cities in a day. If that airplane were to get stuck in one of those cities due to bad weather at the destination or it couldn’t leave where the airplane’s at because of bad weather there, that just throws a huge wrench into the works,” Hardee said.
Recent staffing shortages have also been exacerbated by airline workers who took off during the pandemic and must meet certain training requirements before returning to work.
Between staffing difficulties and bad weather, his best advice is to arrive to the airport at least two hours before your flight. He also said patience is key.
“All the workers you’re going to run into face-to-face are really, really trying their best to make sure you get to where you want to go,” Hardee said. “This is our job, we get you to your family, to your vacation. So we really are trying our best. Sometimes other things intercede and that makes our jobs that much more difficult. But be patient and definitely get to the airport early.”
Whether you plan on traveling in the skies or by car, make sure you give yourself plenty of time. Tennessee Highway Patrol recommended drivers give themselves at least double their normal commute time on Monday morning.