Barrett Lane was on his way from Washington, DC, to one of his best college friend’s weddings in Thousand Oaks, California, when his flight was delayed before the 4th of July weekend.
The 34-year-old transportation project manager and her husband were flown to Newark, New Jersey, where they were supposed to change planes, when their United Airlines flight to Los Angeles was delayed four hours because of maintenance issues.
Multiple delays later, the couple boarded the plane on Wednesday night with other passengers, and sat at the gate for three hours.
The airline eventually let them land and the flight was delayed until morning. The hotel was fully booked, so the couple slept in cots on the airport floor.
Lane told USA TODAY: “I think I could have slept like that for a total of an hour. By the time the last flight took off the next morning, it had been delayed by more than 14 hours.
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United gave the couple a total of $60 in meals and $300 in flight credits, Lane said. A customer service representative also told Lane that the airline would refund the miles he used for the flight (his husband booked a separate ticket and hasn’t called customer service yet). And while he’s planning to skip the wedding rehearsal for a break, he’ll try to enjoy the trip and the occasion.
“You can talk about your travel drama a bit… but the focus is on the bride and groom and the wedding reception,” he said. “So I’ll do my best not to be the main character this weekend.”
Demand for flights is increasing and airlines are straining to try to get people where they want to go. For travelers, it’s more important than ever to be patient and ready for changes, especially as the holiday weekend is sure to bring in larger numbers of visitors to the airports.
What’s happening at airports today?
Around 2 p.m. ET on Friday, more than 300 US flights were canceled and nearly 2,900 more delayed, according to the report. Flight knowledgetrack flight status in real time.
Delta Air Lines has had the most flight cancellations of any airline in the US, with about 80 flights disrupted to date, representing about 2% of its schedule for today. That figure does not include flights operated by Delta’s regional affiliates.
The Federal Aviation Administration warned that today could get tougher as summer storms threaten to cause problems in large swaths of the country.
What causes the problem?
In the US, the biggest problem this summer is the shortage of pilots.
In many cases, airlines don’t have enough staff to fly all of the flights they’ve scheduled, and with the list being pulled thin, it’s going to take more time for airlines to fix the problem. trouble.
Missing pilot: Airlines struggle with reliability this summer
“We need more pilots entering the profession as an industry, as a country, that’s important. And until we address certain issues for that to happen, this is going to become increasingly acute,” Andrew Levy, CEO of ultra-low-cost carrier Avelo Airlines told USA. TODAY. “As a result, this country will have less air service and people will pay higher fares.”
On top of that, airlines say, the Federal Aviation Administration is struggling with staffing some of its air traffic control centers, which could delay departing flights. until controllers have enough bandwidth to handle more incoming planes.
“The answer on what to expect in the next few months was answered three months ago in terms of staffing and scheduling,” said Courtney Miller, of Visual Approach Analytics.
Delta Air Lines went further with its release travel waiver allows customers to rebook their 4th of July trip without paying change fees or fare differences. The waiver is in effect through July 8.
Tips for tourists
Joshua Bush, CEO of Avenue Two Travel, said: Visitors will have to wait for delays and long queues, especially at the security and check-in stage. But they can take steps to minimize disruption.
► For those looking for last-minute flights or new bookings, consider flying straight when possible as Bush has said it “removes the variables of where things can go wrong” and fly from a major airport or hub where there are more opportunities for rerouting .
► He also recommends downloading the airline’s app so you get notified of changes faster and move your checked baggage to carry-on. Bush says it not only reduces the risk of your luggage getting lost, but it also makes it easier to see when you’re on standby on another flight.
► If you’re at the airport when your flight is cancelled, Bush advises travelers to go to the gate agent or customer service as soon as possible, which he admits is “easier said than done” at places crowded airport. You can also call by phone, and he says many airline apps have a chat feature.
“You have at least three different options that can solve the same problem,” he said.
► Travel insurance can be helpful, also. Some insurance companies offer trip interruption, delay and cancellation options, and will reimburse passengers who have lost their bags so they can buy clothes, or claim money to pay hotels or buy groceries. airport food.
“Every policy is different, so go ahead and be sure to review them,” he said.
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While passengers dealing with delays or cancellations can be frustrating, Bush also encourages patience when dealing with border agents or other representatives.
“If they have 100 people yelling and yelling at them and you’re a nice, patient and kind person to them, they’ll try even harder to get you where you need to be,” he said.
If your flight is canceled and you decide not to rebook, the airline must be reimbursed any unused portion of your ticket in cash.
That’s true even if your fare is non-refundable. If you experience major delays, you may also be able to get compensation or a refund.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: July 4 air travel could be messy this year: