EasyJet removing seats and TUI Airways reducing food service amid staff shortages

May 9, 2022

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Airlines have made no secret of the chronic staffing crisis that has left the UK’s air-travel industry in disarray.

The problem is currently so dire that one carrier has resorted to removing seats from its planes while another has asked passengers to start bringing their own food for flights.

For more news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for TPG daily newsletter.

Since the summer vacation flight schedule kicked in last month, airports and airlines have creaked under the weight of a surge in demand as vacation goers scramble to get away after two years of travel restrictions.

Operators are blaming staff shortages for the issues, as they struggle to refill the thousands of roles left vacant due to the pandemic.

Related: Virgin Atlantic plane forced to return to Heathrow mid flight as pilot had not completed training

Not so easy, jet

One of the worst-affected airlines in recent weeks has been easyJet.

The budget carrier has announced it will remove some seats from its A319 aircraft this summer, so the planes can operate with three instead of four cabin crew members.

This helps the airline get around the Civil Aviation Authority rules which state that airlines must have one air steward for every 50 seats, regardless of whether those seats are filled or not.

Related: Everything you need to know about flying EasyJet

Normally, easyJet’s A319’s are packed with 156 seats, requiring four cabin crew members. But by stripping out the back six seats, thereby reducing the aircraft’s capacity to 150, the airline can operate the planes with just three attendants.

“This is an effective way of operating our fleet while building additional resilience and flexibility into our operation this summer where we expect to be back to near 2019 levels of flying,” the company said. They added that the last six seats are usually booked on the final days of departure, so vacation-goers’ summer travel plans will not be affected.

Bitten off more than you can Tui?

Meanwhile, Tui Airways has advised passengers on some flights to bring their own food due to the carrier’s catering issues.

The operator blamed a staff shortage at its catering supplier for the measure, before offering an embarrassing apology to customers.

Related: A complete guide to the 6-month passport validity rule

“We can confirm that unfortunately due to staff shortages with our catering supplier, there may be limited food and drinks services available on board,” Tui UK and Ireland said.

“Customers may therefore want to bring their own food and soft drinks onboard – no alcohol permitted. Any soft drinks over 100ml will need to be purchased after you have passed through security.”

Related: Planes, Trains and a Bus: We Raced from NYC to DC to Find Which Was Fastest

Flights from the following airports are due to be affected:

  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Cardiff
  • Doncaster Sheffield
  • Dublin
  • East Midlands
  • Edinburgh
  • Exeter
  • Glasgow
  • Humberside
  • Leeds Bradford
  • Luton
  • Manchester
  • Norwich
  • Teesside

The disruption will not affect its long-haul flights to Aruba, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico, Orlando and St. Lucia, the company said; they promise meals on these flights will continue as normal.

“Please be assured we are continuously monitoring the situation and working closely with our suppliers to limit the impact to the onboard service for our customers,” the operator added. “We are directly contacting all customers impacted. We’re very sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

Recap: Why so many issues?

When the pandemic brought the aviation industry to a standstill, thousands of airport and airline employees lost their jobs across the country.

One trade union source told TPG in April that many of these workers found jobs in other industries and were quickly seduced by the same — or better — wages for more sociable hours.

So when airports and airlines asked old staff to come back as the industry regained, many refused.

Related: Unlock incredible value with Virgin Atlantic points

“Why would you leave a nice nine-to-five job in town for your old airport job, that pays the same and starts at 3 a.m.?” the source told TPG. “There needs to be a better incentive.”

Airports and airlines, however, have blamed the government for their problems.

They say one of the main issues for the crisis is the time it takes to pass new recruits through the industry’s stringent anti-terror vetting process.

A Heathrow Airport spokesperson told TPG that this process can take anywhere between three and six months, “from recruitment to starting work”.

In response, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps recently told Parliament’s Transport Committee that the government will allow airports to begin training staff without security clearance.

Advantage Travel Partnership CEO Julia Lo Bue-Said told the BBC a “dire labour shortage” in the sector was one of many reasons behind the issues. She called it a “travesty” that easyJet was removing seats from flights, adding: “This only exacerbates the issue of meeting consumer demand to travel.”

The staff shortages, combined with a huge backlog in U.S. passport applications, means many Americans could be in for a chaotic summer of travel this year.

Featured image by Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.