Flight passengers across the United States faced widespread flight cancellations and delays this weekend, due to booming travel demand coupled with a widespread staff shortage.
From Friday to Sunday, airlines flying in, into or out of the United States canceled more than 1,400 flights, according to the FlightAware, A flight-tracking site, stranded and angry some passengers heading for their long-awaited summer vacations. In addition, more than 14,000 flights were postponed over the weekend, according to the site’s data.
Some airlines appear to be struggling to deal with passenger volumes that have approached or in some cases exceeded pandemic levels. The Transportation Safety Administration on Friday screened more passengers — 2.49 million people More than any other day this year. This exceeded the 2.18 passengers who were screened on July 1, 2019, before the outbreak of the pandemic.
The experience was frustrating for some passengers on US airlines. On Saturday, 1,048 — or 29 percent — of Southwest Airlines flights, as well as 28 percent of American Airlines flights, were delayed, according to FlightAware. United Airlines and Delta Air Lines have had similar problems, with 21 per cent and 19 per cent of their flights delayed. On Sunday, the middle of the weekend, travelers seemed to be getting a respite from the worst of problems.
“Obviously, if your flight is delayed or canceled, that’s a disaster,” he said. Robert W. Mann Jr.a former airline executive who now runs aviation consultancy RW Mann & Company.
In a normal month, it was mr. Mann noted that about 20 percent of flights are delayed or canceled. But he said this weekend was about 30 percent — an increase of 50 percent. “It’s a little worse than usual,” he said.
Adding to the pressure on carriers this weekend was a glitch in American Airlines’ pilot scheduling system that enabled pilots to drop thousands of flight assignments for the month of July. The airline said on Saturday that it does not expect any “operational impact” due to the glitch.
But Allied Pilots AssociationThe American Airlines Pilots Association said the company has returned flights that were unilaterally downed without the pilots’ consent. The union said it was pressing the airline to pay a “nuisance premium” to pilots affected by the scheduling system problems.
In a sign of growing passenger frustrations this summer, Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian issued an apology last week.
“I know many of you may have encountered disruptions, sometimes significant, in your travels as we build our operation again from the depths of 2020 while meeting a record level of demand,” he said. Bastian wrote in Posted on LinkedIn. “Although the majority of our flights continue to operate on time, this level of disruption and uncertainty is unacceptable,” he added.
In an email, Morgan Durant, a spokesperson for Delta, said the airline is managing the “combining factors” of bad weather and air traffic control delays, affecting the availability of flight crews. The airline was “working around the clock to make Delta’s operations as flexible as possible to minimize the cascading effect of disruptions”. Durant said. “However, some operational challenges are expected this weekend.”
As the weekend progressed, the wave of flight problems began to recede. By Sunday evening, Delta had canceled just 1 percent of its flights, and only 15 percent of Southwest Airlines flights were delayed, according to FlightAware.
Southwest said Sunday that it was offering a “secure and reliable experience across our network today with less than 10 total cancellations” for the day.
American Airlines and United Airlines did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
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