More than 1,200 US flights are canceled as of 2 p.m. ET Friday with more than 3,000 additional posting delays, according to FlightAware, which tracks flights in real time. The headaches come after one of the worst days yet for travel as the peak summer holiday season heats up. More than 1,750 US flights were canceled Thursday.
At New York’s LaGuardia Airport, 17% of flights had already been canceled on Friday, followed by Newark where 11% of traffic was reduced.
Nationally, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have seen the most cancellations to date, with their schedules today reduced by 7% and 6% respectively. These figures do not include flights on their regional subsidiaries, which operate under the names American Eagle and Delta Connection.
“The vast majority of this is weather-related,” said American Airlines spokesman Curtis Blessing. He noted that weather conditions in the Miami area were also contributing to the carrier’s delays Friday morning.
Airlines kicked off the busy summer travel season by canceling around 2,800 flights over a five-day period around the Memorial Day holiday weekend, marking the start of what is likely to be a difficult summer for passengers. airlines in the country.
Thursday and Friday’s issues come following a virtual meeting between airline CEOs and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg – a sign of the Biden administration’s concern over the prospect of blocked airports and unhappy travelers this summer.
“I’m letting them know this is a time when we really rely on them to reliably deliver to the traveling public,” Buttigieg told NBC News.
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What travelers need to know
If your flight is canceled, the US Department of Transportation asks airlines to rebook you on their next available service with space. If that doesn’t work for you, the carrier is obligated to offer you a refund, even if you purchased a non-refundable ticket.
In the event of a delay, the responsibility of an airline is a little less clear. The DOT requires compensation for “significant delays,” but has no official definition of what is considered “significant.”
Many airlines have updated their policies during the pandemic to give travelers more flexibility to rebook or change their plans. Delta Air Lines, for example, automatically books passengers whose flights have been canceled and sends them their new itineraries via email, text and the Fly Delta app. Customers are free to change their flight booked online or through Delta’s digital messaging platform if the new itinerary does not work.
So far, airlines are not giving a preemptive waiver of change fees in response to Friday’s cancellations, but affected passengers will still have the option to rebook.
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Why this summer is tough on travel
As COVID restrictions continue to loosen, more Americans plan to venture away from home this summer, but airlines are struggling to keep up with the increase.
“I think every part of the travel industry, from airlines to airport workers to security guards, they’ve all been caught off guard by this explosion in demand,” said Kyle Potter, editor of the Thrifty Traveler website, which aims to acquaint people with the inner workings of the airline industry and find travel deals.” It’s really easy to have a 20/20 view in hindsight and telling airlines and airports ‘You went too far when travel collapsed cutting to the bone to stop losing money’, ‘but earlier in the pandemic nobody really knew how long the crisis would last.
About 50 Delta Air Lines pilots demonstrated in New York on Thursday, saying that by this fall they expect to have worked more overtime in 2022 than in 2018 and 2019 combined.
And Delta isn’t the only one having staffing issues. JetBlue recently announced a plan to cut its schedule by 10% this summer in response to expected shortages in its ranks.
Travelers planning to travel this summer should make sure to check flight status with their airline before heading to the airport and know their rights in the event of a problem.
Contributor: Associated Press
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