Pilot strikes loom ahead of what could be the busiest holiday season yet

ByGio Benitez via ABCNews logo
Wednesday, November 2, 2022
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The holiday travel season is just weeks away and pilots at two of the biggest airlines are threatening to walk off the job.

WASHINGTON D.C. -- The holiday travel season is just weeks away and pilots at two of the biggest airlines are threatening to walk off the job.

United pilots announcing they'll start picketing soon and at Delta, nearly all of them voted to authorize a strike.

"We've worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic to get our customers safely to their destinations," Delta Captain Evan Baach said. "We continue to work hard to this day. We will continue working hard. But we're ready and willing to strike."

Pilots say they're frustrated with their pay and benefits as they work record overtime

"We are continuing to work longer days," Baach said. "We are spending more time away from our family. The ball is in the company's court."

A spokesperson from Delta told ABC News the airline company is, "confident that the parties will reach an agreement that is fair and equitable."

The company says the negotiates and looming strike won't affect operations

Just Tuesday night, United pilots rejected a tentative agreement saying pilots will begin informational picketing immediately.

Henry harteveldt president/travel industry analyst atmosphere research group -

"The Delta pilot strike vote is a shot across the bow," said Henry Harteveldt president of the Travel Industry Analyst Atmosphere Research Group. "I think that Delta management understands the gravity of this and is serious about trying to find an arrangement."

Experts say this could be the biggest holiday travel rush since the pandemic, possibly surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

It comes after a record-breaking summer travel season with a slew of weather issues and pilot shortages.

Passengers hoping for a summer vacation were met with thousands of delays and cancellations.

Now, as the number of people screened at airports averages more than 2 million per day airlines are hiring and training thousands of new employees hoping for smoother holiday travel.

"The weather is the big unknown," Harteveldt said. "Mother nature can either be gracious to us or it can be mean. Let's hope she's gracious."

Airlines have already cut flights from the schedule to have extra crew and planes on hand just in case strikes do happen. If bad weather does kick up it could lead to even greater travel disruptions.

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