“Nothing at LaGuardia Airport is $15, but it was better than nothing,” Courchesne, who works at a DC consulting firm on K Street, told The Washington Post. “I went to get a group of Jolly Ranchers. I figured $15 would have covered three family-sized packs, and that’s exactly what happened.
With tens of millions of Americans expected to fly or drive for the July 4 weekend, many are facing summer trips that have been slowed due to flight delays and cancellations, and made more expensive by the high fuel prices.
According to AAA, about 47.9 million travelers to the United States between Friday and Monday represent an increase of nearly 4% over last year – approaching the level of summer travel not seen in the country since before the pandemic. of coronavirus. While the bulk of those travelers will be on the road, more than 3.5 million are expected to be on airliners, that is, if their flights are not delayed or cancelled.
More than 2,800 flights within, to or from the United States were delayed Saturday afternoon, according to flight tracking website FlightAware. Southwest Airlines posted 477 delayed flights on Saturday, representing 13% of its total trips, the data showed. American Airlines posted 390 delayed flights on Saturday, which represents about 12% of its total trips. Delta is at 296 delayed flights, or about 10% of the airline’s trips, according to FlightAware. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport leads in Saturday delays among US airports, followed by Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
More than 600 Saturday flights have already been canceled, according to FlightAware. American, Delta and United Airlines are leading the way among US carriers for Saturday cancellations.
Flight cancellations stress weary travelers as July 4 approaches
The holiday disruptions come at a time when the airline industry has pledged to refocus on reliability. Although weather has always been an issue for airlines, staffing shortages during the pandemic have further hampered carriers’ ability to recover from delays. Several unions representing airline workers have spoken out and staged protests to draw attention to the pressure on employees. On Thursday, more than 1,200 Delta pilots and staff staged protests at multiple airports stretching from New York to Los Angeles to demand higher wages.
Analysts at travel-booking app Hopper predict domestic air fares will average $437 per round-trip ticket, a 45% spike from 2019. Some of the most popular U.S. destinations this weekends include Las Vegas, Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles and Miami, Hopper said.
“The volume of travelers we expect to see on Independence Day is a sure sign that summer travel is kicking into high gear,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, in a statement. Press release. “People are ready for a break and despite things costing more, they are finding ways to keep taking that much-needed vacation.”
Yet problems with air travel persist, despite US airlines receiving billions in pandemic relief funds to keep workers on the job. When Americans were ready to fly again, airlines were expected to be ready for them, especially in a time some have dubbed the year of the “revenge trip.” More than 2.46 million people were screened last Sunday by Transportation Security Administration officers, the highest volume since February 11, 2020.
Welcome to summer travel. It’s hell.
But tens of thousands of delays and cancellations combined marred travelers celebrating busy June 16 and Father’s Day weekends last month. Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration blamed each other for the disruption to air travel.
Flight cancellations mark Father’s Day and June 19 travel weekend
The discussion around air travel efficiency intensified this week when Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Department of Transportation to “fine $55,000 airlines per passenger for each flight cancellation that they know cannot be fully staffed. ”
“The American people are fed up with airlines ripping them off, canceling flights at the last minute and delaying flights for hours,” Sanders said. tweeted.
Buttigieg, who has called on the airline industry to “deliver” the American people, said on Saturday that his own connecting flight was canceled on Friday. In a series of tweetButtigieg said travelers should be “entitled to a cash refund when your flight is cancelled”.
“At first the airline was offering 2,500 miles, which I think is worth about $30. But I requested a refund for the canceled portion instead, and it turned out to be $112.07 Buttigieg wrote. “Airlines offer miles as compensation for certain travel problems, and you can often negotiate about this. It’s between you and the airline. But you are entitled to refunds in cash for canceled flights – this is a requirement we will continue to enforce.
While air passengers grapple with reliability issues, millions of people traveling by road are still struggling with what to pay at the pumps.
The national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $4.82 on Saturday, according to AAA, which is down slightly from Friday’s average of $4.84. Ten states and the District of Columbia have average prices of $5 or more. At an average of $6.25 per gallon, California still leads the nation in fuel cost.
AAA estimates that 42 million people will be driving this weekend. Even with high fuel prices, the agency notes that Americans might feel more in control of their arrival by driving rather than flying.
“Travelling by car offers a level of comfort and flexibility that people may be looking for given recent challenges with flying,” Twidale said.
Courchesne admits she’s one of the lucky ones, and not just because Delta helped fund her dose of Jolly Rancher. After being initially told her trip would be delayed by about 28 hours, she said a Delta helpdesk employee was able to book her on a late Friday night flight to take her to Cleveland. She looks forward to spending time with her grandmother and celebrating family birthdays, but that won’t last long. She’s already thinking about her flight back to Washington on Monday — a flight that includes another layover in LaGuardia.
“I try to do fireworks in DC,” she said. “I hope it will be a bit easier to come back, but I don’t really plan on that.”
Lori Aratani, Hannah Sampson and James Bikales contributed to this report.