Travel chaos lasted until the eighth day with thousands of delayed flights and more than 500 cancellations in the US, sparking fears of chaos on July 4.
As of Friday morning, more than 2,104 flights were delayed in, to or out of the US, according to FlightAware. A further 543 flights were canceled across the country.
Some of the major airlines have been accused of exacerbating a bad situation as the crisis continues.
Multiple Twitter users accused Delta and American Airlines of putting them on hold for hours, with one saying they waited three days to check in on their Delta compensation claim of more than $1,200 filed nearly three weeks ago and was submitted without response.
Another accused the airline of simply “ghosting” them by refusing to continue responding to their complaints to customer service.
Travel chaos lasted until the eighth day with thousands of delayed flights and more than 500 cancellations in the US, leading to chaos on July 4.
American Airlines was criticized by traveler Brayden McMahan, who said his group had been given hotel vouchers but were refused at the hotel; he added that three others staying in the same hotel are experiencing the same problem. McMahan’s children had to sleep on chairs.
Another flyer, Scott Lincicome, said Delta canceled his flight home due to the weather and then rebooked him for the next morning, saying he couldn’t get a refund because of the weather-related cancellation. He did, however, see other airlines taking off in the area around the same time.
Other Twitter users posted photos of lost bags piling up at baggage claim and dozens of people standing by, with no one at their gates.
This is because U.S. consumers filed more than three times as many complaints against U.S. airlines in April, compared to pre-pandemic levels, as on-time arrivals fell, according to a Department of Transportation report.
In April, major airlines booked on-time arrivals at 76 percent, down from 77.2 percent in March and below 79.8 percent in April 2019.
Airlines operated 566,893 flights in April, about 87 percent of the flights in the same month in 2019.
The grim news portends a potentially busy July 4 holiday, according to AAA, as more than 47 million Americans are expected to travel over the holiday weekend, with 3.5 million of those travelers expected to travel by air.
An aviation industry trade group said Friday that the Federal Aviation Administration must ensure adequate staffing at air traffic control in the face of mounting delays over the summer.
Trade group Airlines for America told U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in a letter that staffing problems are disrupting flights — even in good weather. The group noted that the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center in Florida “was understaffed for 27 of the past 30 days, which is crippling the entire traffic flow on the East Coast.”
In New Jersey, United Airlines will cancel about 50 flights a day from Newark in an effort to reduce the long delays the airline blames on airport construction and other problems.
The cuts — about 12 percent of United’s flights to Newark — will go into effect July 1 and last through the summer. United is the main airline of Newark Liberty International Airport, which is located across the Hudson River from New York City, and is heavily used by people living in and around the city.
United’s chief operations officer, Jon Roitman, told employees the airline has enough planes, pilots and other employees to carry out its Newark schedule, but the cancellation of flights “should help minimize excessive delays and improve on-time performance.”
Only domestic flights will be reduced, a United spokeswoman said on Thursday, adding that United will not drop destinations from Newark. The airline received an exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration to reduce the number of flights, she said.
Travelers are already experiencing a tough summer as airlines expect record demand and as they rebuild workforces after thousands of workers leave the industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic. By early afternoon Friday, airlines had canceled 525 flights and delayed more than 1,800.
Airlines for America sought to meet with transportation officials “to discuss how we can work together to better understand the FAA’s controller staffing plan for the upcoming July 4 weekend and the summer travel season.”
United announced on Friday that they will cancel 12 percent of their flights from Newark Airport from July 1.
The United States Department of Transportation and the FAA did not immediately comment.
The FAA said in early May it would bolster air traffic control personnel in Florida after bad weather and space launches often hampered flights in recent months.
Last week, Buttigieg called on the chief executives of major U.S. airlines to a virtual meeting to discuss thousands of recent flight cancellations and delays over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. He urged airlines to ensure that they can reliably operate scheduled summer schedules.
Airlines for America said in its Friday letter, which it released publicly, that airlines have cut “15 percent of summer flights (June-August) from what they had planned for early 2022.”
The letter said an airline estimated that ATC-related issues “were a factor in at least a third of recent cancellations.” The group said ATC “staff challenges have resulted in traffic restrictions under blue sky conditions.”
The letter also said it was “necessary” to ensure adequate staffing at New York Terminal Radar Approach Control. It urged the FAA to “share its staffing plan with airlines” for the July 4 holiday season and to schedule closures of space airspace “to avoid busy air traffic times.”