Why flying to a small city might not be such a great idea in 2022

With airlines still running reduced services to regional airports, travellers are faced with cancellations and lengthy delays

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham
News Editor, Time Out UK and Time Out London
EasyJet plane
Photograph: goodbishop /

Before the pandemic, flying to small cities was a pretty nifty way of exploring the world. Whether you were looking to dive into a new, lesser-trodden destination or you were simply on the hunt for a cheaper flight to then transit elsewhere, flying into smaller airports certainly had its uses. 

So far in 2022, however, air travel hasn’t quite returned to normal. And a key part of that concerns small city airports, which are still being served at a greatly reduced rate. Loads of these routes were cut during the pandemic and, despite increasing demand, they still haven’t been replaced. In the USA, for example, the Wall Street Journal reckons 30 airports have lost at least half the flights they had pre-pandemic.  

To make matters worse, despite running reduced services, lots of airlines are actually still offering a mostly normal schedule of flights to smaller cities (in Europe, EasyJet, we’re looking at you). When it gets nearer to departure, these airlines reveal that they don’t have the staff to actually fulfil the flights, causing them to be cancelled.

On top of that, if you do book a holiday to a small city and the airline cancels, fewer options means that the alternatives are both harder to find and much more expensive. Passengers can easily find themselves either unable to go on holiday and/or stranded at their destination, with the alternative being that they’re forced to fork out big bucks for an alternative route.

So what can you do to avoid all this hassle? Well, one way is to take into account which airlines are cancelling the most flights and then avoid those carriers. In the UK, for instance, the guiltiest airlines for cancelling in recent months have been EasyJet, British Airways and Tui.

Otherwise, of course, it might be better to delay that offbeat city break until aviation is running a bit more smoothly. The joys of post-pandemic travel, eh?

ICYMI: why is the chaos at airports so much worse in the UK than elsewhere?

Plus: three days of rail strikes will hit the UK later this month.

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