As travelers try to reach loved ones for Sunday’s Father’s Day and Juneteenth celebrations, more than 2,000 scheduled flights between Friday and Sunday going in, out, or within the United States have been canceled, with nearly 14,000 more experiencing delays.
According to FlightAware data, Friday saw 1,473 flights canceled and 8,958 delays while on Saturday, 859 flights were canceled with a whopping 18,198 delays. The Hill reported an additional 419 flights scheduled for the holiday-ridden Sunday were canceled as of Saturday evening.
On Saturday, in Atlanta alone, Delta canceled 219 flights, stranding passengers at the city’s Hartsfield Jackson Airport for 24 hours, the Daily Mail reported.
Among them was disabled U.S. Army vet Joe Reis, who was trying to return home from his honeymoon. With his hearing-aid charger in his hold bag in Omaha, the newly-wedded man — who slept on the airport floor on Saturday — was nothing less than “miserable.”
“Instead of it being a happy honeymoon, it became a very miserable plane ride waiting for this hell hole to let us finally leave,” he said. “I have to rely on hearing aids, and so my charging port is actually in my bag in Omaha.”
Exhausted new mom Brooke Osborne watched her coveted supply of baby formula and clean diapers dwindle as she struggled through the delays with her 11-month-old daughter.
“We’ve just been giving her more food throughout the day and less bottles since all of her formula is in our checked bag, which is in Omaha,” she said.
A record-number of travelers coupled with staff shortages, vendor issues, and COVID-19 have created a perfect storm for airlines to navigate.
Airline pilots fight Biden’s vaccine mandate, protest at major airport: ‘Enough is enough’ https://t.co/yGhVVclJYG
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According to The Hill, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) figures reveal 2,438,784 people — the most recorded by the agency since the Sunday following 2021’s Thanksgiving — passed through airport checkpoints on Friday.
Warnings of potential airline problems started last summer, with TSA Administrator Darby LaJoye predicting that more than 100 U.S. airports would likely see staff shortages.
Between those who refused to accept required COVID-19 vaccines and those who did but got sick anyway, thousands of scheduled summer flights have been nixed.
John Stossel: Expect more flight delays and thank the US government for impending pilot shortage https://t.co/tepl4Dn6pm pic.twitter.com/lBapabbb11
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) May 26, 2022
And in a move that could potentially make things much worse just in time for the Fourth of July, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg — whose own flight to New York was canceled — has pushed airlines “to stress-test their summer schedules to ensure they can operate all their planned flights with the employees they have, and to add customer-service workers,” the Associated Press reported Saturday. “That could put pressure on airlines to make additional cuts in their summer schedules.”
Depending upon how they do through the July 4th holiday weekend, Buttigieg’s department may just fine them for “failing to live up to consumer-protection standards.”
“That is happening to a lot of people,” Buttigieg said of his flight cancellation, “and that is exactly why we are paying close attention here to what can be done and how to make sure that the airlines are delivering.”
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