British passengers have been left ‘stranded’ at US airports as thousands of flights have been delayed or axed ahead of Fourth of July celebrations.
Airlines were scrambling on Wednesday to save their summer schedules amid the fifth day of massive nationwide delays and cancellations, ahead of one of the busiest flying weekends of the year.
Travellers at airports across the US faced misery on Wednesday as almost 30,000 flights were delayed, and 2,000 cancelled.
It comes amid fears the problem will likely get worse before it gets better, as today is expected to be the busiest day of the holiday weekend, with 52,500 flights scheduled.
Britons have also reported being caught up in the chaos – with frustrated passengers complaining about being ‘stranded’ at airports, having luggage lost, long delays and waiting for answers.
A Brit tweeted this photo and told United to sort out the baggage issues at Newark Airport
Another Brit tweeted about the ‘mayhem’ at Newark airport, saying almost every flight was delayed by several hours at the time of his tweet on Sunday
Long lines of people are seen waiting to check in for flights at LAX on Wednesday
Julia Linford, tweeting from Wimbledon in south London today, wrote: ‘Any news on US internal flights? My sister ‘stranded’ in San Francisco did last couple of days trying to get to Boston, or anywhere!
‘@united flights cancelled with no further advice.
She added: ‘Flight to Boston cancelled. She’s been sleeping on the floor. Lots of distressed and weepy people and families. She’d take a flight literally anywhere to leave!’
One hopeful traveller tweeted on Sunday that his flight from Gatwick Airport to Harry Reid International Airport, Las Vegas, had been cancelled. He said at the time he was not sure of the reason why.
A Twitter user whose location is set to London wrote early this morning: ‘@united my connecting flight in San Francisco just got cancelled after waiting for 5 hours.
‘Nobody can tell me where my luggage from London is at, Nobody is answering online support, no idea how I’m going to San Diego. Help!!!!!’
Conan Osborne, of London, said: ‘@united seem to be focused on their @Wrexham_AFC sponsor and keeping celebs happy than running an airline.
‘Cancelled flight; so paid for a new one to make the connection – bumped us off the connection (even though 5 hours early) and making us stand in a 6hr assistance queue. Joke.’
Another Londoner, named James B on Twitter, said: ‘My flight to San Diego cancelled after 4 delays on Monday evening.
‘Decided to stay in NYC, but my bag’s gone to LA… service is terrible. Queued 5 hours to speak to baggage desk last night.’
Brits have been tweeting about their cancelled and delayed flights and lost luggage
The JFK departure area on Wednesday, five days in the ‘flightmare’ that has stranded thousands of travelers
One flight attendant working with United warned people to try and delay their plans
United was the worst affected airline in the United States on Wednesday
United was the worst affected airline on Wednesday, with a quarter of all their flights, almost 700, were cancelled and nearly half were delayed
Meanwhile Newark was the hardest-hit airport, with Chicago, LaGuardia, Houston and Denver also badly affected: the misery will continue for several days as airlines attempt to rectify the backlog.
Huge crowds, bad weather, and inability of some airline crews to reach their scheduling offices all contributed to the mess.
Staffing shortages among airlines and among the Federal Aviation Administration also caused chaos.
United accepted they had been struggling, but said they hoped the worst was over.
‘We’re beginning to see improvement across our operation,’ the airline said in a statement on Wednesday night.
‘As our operation improves in the days ahead, we will be on track to restore our operation for the holiday weekend.’
A US Transportation Department spokesperson said the agency is working with airlines to fix things, but the combination of high traffic and bad weather reduces the rate at which planes can take off and land safely, leading to delays and cancelled flights.