Airline Execs Say Flying Will Return to Normal in 2023

Some of these issues will be here for the remainder of the year.

Editor's Note: We know COVID-19 is continuing to impact your travel plans. Should you travel now, be sure to familiarize yourself with the CDC's latest guidance on domestic and international travel as well as local requirements, protocols, and restrictions for both your destination upon your arrival and your home city upon your return. Be safe out there.

If you’ve traveled on an airplane this year, or have even read the news about flying, you’re well aware that things have been rough. Flights canceled, extensive delays, luggage lost. At London’s Heathrow Airport, there was even a daily passenger capacity limit set to help deal with the influx of travelers and the shortage of staff.

In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said he expects it will be 2023 before the chaos of flying settles down.

“We’re not going to get back to normal utilization and normal staffing levels until next summer,” Kirby said. “The system just can’t support our flying. We’re going to be a smaller airline because the system cannot support it.”

Kirby is not the first to predict 2023 as the year the flight industry returns to normal. In 2020, the International Air Transport Association gave CNBC a similar projection for recovery time. Bloombergpublished a report in 2021 that also predicted travel won’t return to normal until 2023.

If you’re planning to take a trip before next year, make sure you check out Thrillist’s resources on what you’ll need to know if you deal with unexpected cancellations and delays.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.