4th of July travelers face thousands of flight delays, cancellations and high gas prices in the US

Placeholder while loading article actions

Isabella Courchesne was about to enjoy an Italian submarine at New York’s LaGuardia Airport when she received an alert familiar to many July 4 travelers: her flight had been delayed.

Courchesne was trying to spend a weekend grilling and shopping with his family in Cleveland. She remained patient after seeing around 15 flight cancellations on the airport’s departure board before her own Delta Air Lines flight was canceled and rescheduled 24 hours later. A $15 airline food voucher was fine, she said, but the 21-year-old still wondered if she would make it home — or if she would be stuck snacking on candy at LaGuardia.

“Nothing at LaGuardia Airport is $15, but it was better than nothing,” Courchesne, who works at a DC consulting firm on K Street, told The Washington Post. “I went to get a group of Jolly Ranchers. I figured $15 would have covered three family-sized packs, and that’s exactly what happened.

With tens of millions of Americans expected to fly or drive for the July 4 weekend, many are facing summer trips that have been slowed due to flight delays and cancellations, and made more expensive by the high fuel prices.

An estimated 47.9 million travelers to the United States between Friday and Monday represent an increase of almost 4% over last year. AAA – approaching the level of summer travel not seen in the country since before the coronavirus pandemic. While the bulk of those travelers will be on the road, more than 3.5 million are expected to be on airliners, that is, if their flights are not delayed or cancelled.

More than 3,800 flights within, to or from the United States were delayed late Saturday afternoon, according to the flight tracking website. FlightAware. Southwest Airlines had 715 delayed flights on Saturday, representing 20% of his total moves, according to the data. American Airlines had 643 delayed flights, representing 20% ​​of its total trips. Delta was at 368 delayed flights, or 13% of the airline’s trips, according to FlightAware. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport led the way for Saturday’s delays among U.S. airports, followed by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

More than 2,300 flights on Saturday had been canceled, according to FlightAware. American, Delta and United Airlines are leading the way among US carriers for Saturday cancellations.

Flight cancellations stress weary travelers as July 4 approaches

The holiday disruptions come at a time when the airline industry has pledged to refocus on reliability. Although weather has always been an issue for airlines, staffing shortages during the pandemic have further hampered carriers’ ability to recover from delays. Several unions representing airline workers have spoken out and staged protests to draw attention to the pressure on employees. On Thursday, more than 1,200 Delta pilots and staff staged protests at multiple airports stretching from New York to Los Angeles to demand higher wages.

On Saturday, the Allied Pilots Association, the union of American Airlines, said a scheduling software glitch the night before had allowed pilots to abandon assignments, potentially missing more than 12,000 flights for the month. The airline said the “vast majority of affected travel” had been reinstated and there were no expected effects on operations.

Analysts with travel booking application Hopper predict domestic air fares will average $437 per round trip ticket, up 45% from 2019. Some of the most popular US destinations this weekend include Las Vegas, Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles and Miami, Hopper said.

“The volume of travelers we expect to see on Independence Day is a sure sign that summer travel is kicking into high gear,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, in a statement. Press release. “People are ready for a break and despite things costing more, they are finding ways to keep taking that much-needed vacation.”

Yet problems with air travel persist, despite US airlines receiving billions in pandemic relief funds to keep workers on the job. When Americans were ready to fly again, airlines were expected to be ready for them, especially in a time some have dubbed the year of the “revenge trip.” More than 2.46 million people were screened last Sunday by Transportation Security Administration officers, the highest volume since February 11, 2020.

Welcome to summer travel. It’s hell.

But tens of thousands of delays and cancellations combined marred travelers celebrating busy June 16 and Father’s Day weekends last month. Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration blamed each other for the disruption to air travel.

Flight cancellations mark Father’s Day and June 19 travel weekend

The discussion around air travel efficiency intensified this week when Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Department of Transportation to “fine $55,000 airlines per passenger for each flight cancellation that they know cannot be fully staffed. ”

“The American people are fed up with airlines ripping them off, canceling flights at the last minute and delaying flights for hours,” Sanders said. tweeted.

Buttigieg, who appealed to the airline industry”deliverfor the American people, said on Saturday that his own connecting flight was canceled on Friday. In a series of tweetButtigieg said travelers should be “entitled to a cash refund when your flight is cancelled”.

“At first the airline was offering 2500 miles, which I think is worth about $30. But I requested a refund for the canceled portion instead, and it turned out to be $112.07” Buttigieg wrote, “Airlines offer miles as compensation for certain travel issues, and you can often negotiate about that. It’s between you and the airline. But you’re entitled to cash refunds.” for canceled flights – this is a requirement that we will continue to enforce.

Travelers to Frankfurt, Germany, and London faced long delays and luggage backlogs on July 1 as airlines struggled to handle “high passenger numbers”. (Video: The Washington Post)

While air passengers grapple with reliability issues, millions of people traveling by road are still struggling with what to pay at the pumps.

The national average price for a gallon of gas is $4.82 on Saturday, according to AAA, which is slightly down from Friday’s average of $4.84. Ten states and the District of Columbia have average prices of $5 or more. At an average of $6.25 per gallon, California still leads the nation in fuel cost.

AAA estimates that 42 million people will be driving this weekend. Even with high fuel prices, the agency notes that Americans might feel more in control of their arrival by driving rather than flying.

“Travelling by car offers a level of comfort and flexibility that people may be looking for given recent challenges with flying,” Twidale said.

Courchesne admits she’s one of the lucky ones, and not just because Delta helped fund her dose of Jolly Rancher. After being initially told her trip would be delayed by about 28 hours, she said a Delta helpdesk employee was able to book her on a late Friday night flight to take her to Cleveland. She looks forward to spending time with her grandmother and celebrating family birthdays, but that won’t last long. She’s already thinking about her flight back to Washington on Monday — a flight that includes another layover in LaGuardia.

“I try to do fireworks in DC,” she said. “I hope it will be a bit easier to come back, but I don’t really plan on that.”

Lori Aratani, Hannah Sampson, James Bikales and Meryl Kornfield contributed to this report.

Comments are closed.