Travelers across the country faced the prospect of canceled or delayed flights on Saturday as airlines and airports grappled with high demand, bad weather and staff shortages.
As of Saturday night, about 650 flights had been canceled in the United States and more than 5,200 domestic, inbound or outbound flights were delayed. According to flight tracking website FlightAware.
Although the number of troubled flights was higher than on a typical travel day, the demand for travel was also high. According to the Transportation Security Administration, the number of travelers over the Fourth of July holiday weekend reached pre-pandemic levels. Travel demand for the same holiday weekend last year rebounded significantly from pandemic-related lows, but was still below this year’s levels.
The three U.S. airports most affected by cancellations and delays on Saturday were Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and New York-area Kennedy Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport, FlightAware data showed.
The number of canceled and delayed flights was well below levels during this Christmas and New Year holiday, when bad weather and Omicron-related staff shortages disrupted airline schedules.
Still, airlines are scrambling to meet demand this July 4th holiday as they grapple with pilot shortages, weather and air traffic control delays.
“Delta crews continue to operate safely through the complexities of inclement weather and air traffic control delays, which impact available flight crew time,” a Delta Air Lines spokeswoman said in an email. “Flight cancellation is always our last resort and we sincerely apologize to our customers for any disruption to their travel plans.”
Delta said it is offering customers the option to change flights between July 1 and July 4 without any fare changes if they are traveling between the same origin and destination.
United Airlines also blamed the weather and air traffic control programs for the delays.
Adding to the stress at American Airlines was a computer glitch in the pilot’s travel trading system that allowed some travel trading that the airline said “should not have been allowed.” But American said it “does not expect any operational impact due to this issue,” adding that “weather and traffic control issues” were the “primary drivers of delays/cancellations” on Saturday.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the main reason for flight delays and cancellations is weather and travel demand. The agency added in a statement: “The FAA has taken action on issues raised by airlines and is working with them to share information to ensure the safe operation of aircraft when weather and other airspace events limit capabilities. The agency also added alternate routes and deployed more monitors in high-demand areas and increased information sharing.”
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