Summer travel chaos continues as more than 250 flights across the US are canceled
The weekend’s travel chaos did not let up on Monday as major airlines continued to cancel and delay many of their scheduled flights – even as airline executives continue to defend the industry.
On Monday morning, more than 750 flights were delayed within, or coming into or exiting the United States, and over 270 were canceled, according to Flight Aware.
New York City-area airports Newark International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport faced the most delays and cancelations in the United States, followed by major hub Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.
Meanwhile, more than 200 flights were delayed and more than 60 were canceled early Monday morning at Logan International Airport in Boston and Los Angeles International Airport saw 12 flights canceled and 49 were delayed.
One passenger, PGA manager Mattie-Lou Chandler, even reported that her flight was canceled a total of three times from Jacksonville International Airport in Florida on Monday alone.
Matt Hudson, a former Congressman from Florida, also posted a photo of large lines at a Delta check-in, writing: ‘Hey @Delta, didn’t you know we were coming? #Pathetic We were supposed to leave yesterday!!!’
Since Thursday, almost 20,000 flights have been canceled or delayed, according to UPI, with more than 8,000 flights canceled or delayed on Sunday alone.
‘This has been another travel Armageddon weekend,’ InteleTravel President James Ferrara told USA Today. ‘But it’s not isolated or really a surprise.
‘We’re in a boom time for travel,’ he explained. ‘We’re blowing away all records all previous years, so you’ve got this surge in demand, and you’ve got limitations on staffing.’
Air carriers allege the demand for travel has soared to pre-pandemic levels, yet staffing remains strained after mass COVID-19 fueled layoffs.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) data revealed the number of people flying on Friday and Saturday nearly equaled the same number of those who flew on the same days in 2019.
Meantime, the ongoing trends of frustrated travelers and high number of cancellations has pushed Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to tell airline executives to clean up their act and avoid another flying catastrophe before July 4.
But airline executives say they are doing the best they can to meet the surging demand, saying the travel chaos is limited and admitting that the industry is ‘rusty.’
Former Florida Rep Matt Hudson tweeted on Monday that he was supposed to depart the day before, amid long lines at Delta’s check-in
PGA Manager Mattie-Lou Chandler also tweeted that her flights were canceled a total of three times on Monday morning
Travel chaos continued across the United States on Monday, as more than 750 flights were delayed and over 270 were canceled
It followed a weekend of massive cancelations and delays, with almost 20,000 flights canceled or delayed since Thursday
The travel chaos over the weekend has left dozens of Delta passengers stranded at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for more than 24 hours, and online, many people called out the airlines for waiting on customer service lines for hours.
Those lucky enough to board their flights have cited long waits on the tarmac, including one traveler flying into New York City who claimed he was stuck on a plane for more than 90 minutes after landing.
One mother also claimed over the weekend that an unidentified woman ‘had a heart attack in front of [her son] after running to a new gate’ at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport on Friday.
Two television meteorologists also used their Twitter platforms to discuss the hardships they faced, with Nathan Scott, who works at KTHV in Little Rock, Arkansas, sharing how he and his new bride were rapped at Delta’s hub in Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday night before their flight was ultimately canceled.
A concerned mother (pictured) took to Twitter Sunday after she saw a woman have an apparent heart attack at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport
Similarly, in a series of tweets over the weekend, Shel Winkley, a meteorologist for KBTX News, shared how he struggled to arrive at – and later get home from – an American Meteorological Society Broadcast Conference in Milwaukee.
He wrote that he first faced a four-hour delay from Dallas-Fort Worth to General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee last Monday and after he arrived in the area, a large storm was slamming the city and the flight had to land in Madison, Wisconsin until the storm passed.
That would have been enough for the traveling meteorologist, but as he tried to head home on Friday, his flight scheduled to leave at 5.30pm started getting pushed back to 7pm and he was eventually told there was a malfunction on the plane – delaying it until the next morning.
In total, his flights were canceled and delayed a total of six times – and he even had to travel to Chicago O’Hare airport in hopes of getting a flight from there.
Eventually, Winkley even had to sleep at the Chicago O’Hare airport and decided to travel to Austin instead of his home in the Dallas area.
New mother Brooke Osborne also echoed the complaints, saying that she was running out of diapers and formula for her 11-month-old daughter, Carson, as her flight was delayed.
‘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 told the local outlet.
And disabled US Army veteran Joe Reis told 11 Alive that the delays and cancellations have kept him from returning home from his honeymoon and accessing the charger for his hearing aids, which is in his hold bag.
‘Instead of it being a happy honeymoon, it became a very miserable plane ride waiting for this hell hole to let us finally leave,’ Reis said, adding that he had to sleep on the floor on Saturday. ‘I have to rely on hearing aids, and so my charging port is actually in my bag in Omaha.’
In a series of tweets over the weekend, Shel Winkley (pictured napping at the airport) a meteorologist for KBTX News, shared how he struggled to arrive at – and later get home from – an American Meteorological Society Broadcast Conference in Milwaukee.
Nathan Scott, who works at KTHV in Little Rock, Arkansas, shared how he was one of the many Delta passengers to get stranded over the weekend. He is pictured with his new bride
Scott and his new bride were met with a bad ending to their ‘great honeymoon’ after being trapped at Delta’s hub in Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday night
The situation did not seem to be much better internationally either, with London’s Heathrow airport ordering airlines to cancel 10 percent of their flights to cope with baggage backlog, leaving 15,000 passengers stranded.
Virgin Atlantic has now canceled at least three long-haul flights from London to destinations including New York and Los Angeles, while British Airways has been forced to make a small number of cancellations.
Meanwhile, EasyJet said it is ‘proactively consolidating a number of flights’ at airports affected by ‘operational issues’, such as London Gatwick and Amsterdam Schiphol.
CEO Johan Lundgren said he could not provide a figure for the number or proportion of flights that will be cancelled because ‘we need to work this through’ as ‘it would be misleading for me to give any numbers today because we simply don’t know.’
He added: ‘The actions we’re taking, we do need to make sure that we can continue to operate a stable programme for the remainder of the summer. We believe it’s the right measure to take.’
Executives at Delta also vowed to cut its service by about 100 flights per day from July 1 to August 7 in an effort to combat ongoing staffing shortages, with CEO Ed Bastian saying the air carrier has been actively hiring new workers over the past year after more than 17,000 employees left the company in July 2020, at the height of the pandemic.
As of early June, Delta Airlines reported it had hired more than 15,000 workers in the last year but stated it was still not enough to meet the soaring travel demand.
In a statement about the delays and cancellations, Delta said: ‘We apologize for any inconvenience and delay customers have experienced as a result of issues primarily driven by weather, ATC, and crew resources.
‘Delta people continue working hard to deliver the operations customers have come to expect from us, and we are working quickly to resolve travel issues and get customers to their destination.’
Among the worst hit areas were the New York City metro area. Passengers are seen here last week at John F Kennedy International Airport
Long lines and delays have plagued the airline industry over the weekend, with many people sharing their anger on Twitter
The situation has spread internationally, with Virgin Atlantic announcing that it has canceled at least three long-haul flights from London to destinations including New York and Los Angeles
Airline executives around the world are now defending their operations amid the surge in demand.
Australia-based Qantas Airlines CEO Alan Joyce told CNBC in a recent interview that it’s going to take some time to get the system up and running smoothly again.
‘The entire industry everywhere is experiencing this, and we’re seeing some of it in Australia,’ Joyce said at the International Air Transport Association’s 78th Annual General Meeting in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday.
It’s ‘not as bad as you’re seeing in Europe or in the North American market,’ the CEO admitted, noting: ‘We saw during Easter long queues at airports; nothing like you’ve seen in London, Manchester and Dublin and other places around Europe.’
‘And I think it does take a while. The system is rusty, everything was closed down for two years,’ he added. ‘It is going to take awhile to get that system humming again. It’s a huge complicated business, there’s a lot of moving parts involved in it.’
Jason Reisinger, American Airlines managing director of global planning, also told WRAL that the entire industry is trying to adjust their schedules to accommodate the rising summer demand.
‘[We are] working schedules early on so … we have as few hiccups as we can on a given day,’ he said.
‘Obviously, it is affecting service levels at American, but we’re working through it.’
And IATA Director General Willie Walsh told CNBC that the travel chaos is ‘isolated,’ noting that not every airport is experiencing problems.
Still, he admitted, the airline industry is ‘not out of the woods.’
‘Yes, we want to do better, and yes we will do better,’ Walsh said. ‘But I would strongly urge consumers looking at the opportunity to fly to reflect on the fact that this isn’t happening everywhere.
‘And in the vast, vast majority of cases, flights are operating on schedule, without disruption, without any problems at the airport, and I think you can look forward to enjoying the experience of flying again.’
Still, the ongoing trends of frustrated travelers and high number of cancellations pushed Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to tell airline executives to clean up their act and avoid another flying catastrophe before July 4.
Buttigieg, alongside millions of other travelers, are tired of what feels like constant cancellations without so much as an apology from the airlines.
The father-of-two has given airline executives a short two-week period to clean up the mess and guarantee travelers can enjoy a patriotic weekend and summer without the airport stress.
He’s asked them to ‘stress-test’ operations ahead of the next big holiday – meaning travel firms could ultimately end up cutting more flights if they realize they’ll have insufficient resources to operate them.
‘At the end of the day, they’ve got to deliver,’ Buttigieg told the Today Show. The Democrat met with top airlines executives on Thursday to warn them to avoid the Memorial Day disaster, where 2,700 flights were canceled.
On Friday, Buttigieg tweeted: ‘Air travelers should be able to expect reliable service as demand returns to levels not seen since before the pandemic.’