July 4 Vacationers face hundreds of flight delays, cancellations, excessive fuel costs throughout the US

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Isabella Courchesne was about to enjoy an Italian side flight at New York’s LaGuardia Airport when she received a warning familiar to many travelers on July 4: Her flight was delayed.

Courchesne is trying to spend a weekend barbecuing and shopping with family in Cleveland. She remained patient after seeing about 15 canceled flights on the airport’s departure board before her own Delta Air Lines flight was canceled and rescheduled 24 hours later. A $15 food voucher from the airline, she says, is great, but the 21-year-old is still wondering if she’ll ever come home – or if she’ll be stuck snacking on food. candy at LaGuardia.

“Nothing at LaGuardia Airport costs $15, but it’s better than nothing,” Courchesne, who works at a DC consulting firm on K Street, told The Washington Post. “I went and had a bunch of Jolly Ranchers. I thought $15 would cover three family-sized packages, and that’s exactly what happened. “

As tens of millions of Americans are expected to fly or drive over the weekend of July 4, many are facing a summer travel slowdown due to flight delays and cancellations. more expensive due to high fuel prices.

There were an estimated 47.9 million tourists in the United States Friday through Monday, up nearly 4%, from last year, according to AAA – approaching levels of summer travel not seen in the country since before the coronavirus pandemic. While the majority of these travelers will be on the road, more than 3.5 million are expected to take the plane, i.e. if their flight is not delayed or cancelled.

According to the flight-tracking website, more than 2,800 flights in, to or out of the United States were delayed as of Saturday afternoon. Flight knowledge. Southwest Airlines saw 477 flights delayed on Saturday, representing 13% of its total trips, the data showed. American Airlines showed 390 flights delayed on Saturday, about 12% of its total trips. Delta has 296 flights delayed, about 10% of its trips, according to FlightAware. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport led on Saturday’s delays among US airports, followed by Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

More than 600 flights on Saturday were canceled, according to FlightAware. American, Delta and United Airlines led the way among US airlines in cancellations on Saturday.

Flight cancellations stress weary travelers as July 4 draws near

The holiday disruption comes at a time when the airline industry has commit to a new focus about reliability. While weather has always been an issue for airlines, staff shortages during the pandemic have further hampered airlines’ ability to overcome delays. Several unions representing airline workers have spoken out and staged protests to draw attention to the strain on employees. On Thursday, more than 1,200 Delta pilots and employees held protests at several airports stretching from New York to Los Angeles demanding higher pay.

Analysts with travel booking apps Hopper are projecting an average domestic airfare of up to $437 per return ticket, a 45% spike from 2019. Some of the most popular US destinations this weekend include Las Vegas, Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles and Miami, Hopper said.

“The volume of visitors we expect to arrive on Independence Day is a clear sign that summer travel is on the rise,” said Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel. AAA Travel senior vice president, said in a press release. “People are getting ready for a vacation and even though things cost more, they’re looking for ways to still get that much needed vacation.”

Still, problems with air travel persist, despite US airlines receiving billions of dollars in pandemic relief funds to keep workers employed. As Americans get ready to fly again, the expectation is that airlines will be ready for them, especially in what has been called the year of the dead by some. “Revenge tourism.” More than 2.46 million people were viewed last Sunday by Transport Security Management officers, the highest volume since February 11, 2020.

Welcome to summer travel. That is hell.

But tens of thousands of combined delays and cancellations have affected the celebration of the busy weekends of June 13 and Father’s Day last month. Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration have blamed each other for the flight disruptions.

Flights canceled due to busy Father’s Day, travel weekend June 13

Discussion around air travel efficiency spiked this week as Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Department of Transportation to “penalize carriers.” airlines $55,000 per passenger for every flight cancellation they know they can’t fully staff. “

“Americans are fed up with airlines ripping them off, canceling flights at the last minute and delaying flights for hours on end,” Sanders said. tweeted.

Buttigieg, who appealed to the aviation industry “delivery“For the American people, recounted on Saturday how his own connecting flight was canceled on Friday. In a variety of tweetsButtigieg says travelers should “get a refund when your flight is cancelled.”

“At first the airline offered 2,500 miles, which I estimate was worth about $30. But I asked for a refund for the canceled portion instead, and it worked out $112.07,” Buttigieg wrote. “Airlines offer miles as compensation for some travel problems and you can usually negotiate this. It’s between you and the airline. But you get refunds for canceled flights – that’s a requirement we’ll continue to enforce.”

Travelers in Frankfurt, Germany and London faced lengthy delays and piled-up luggage on July 1, as airlines struggled to manage “high passenger numbers”. (Video: The Washington Post)

While airline passengers face reliability issues, millions of road users are still struggling with what they pay at the pump.

The national average price for a gallon of gas was $4.82 on Saturday, according to AAA, down slightly from Friday’s average of $4.84. Ten states and the District of Columbia have median prices of $5 or more. With an average of $6.25 a gallon, California still leads the nation in fuel costs.

AAA estimates that 42 million people will be driving this weekend. Even with high fuel prices, the agency notes that Americans may feel more in control of arriving by driving rather than by plane.

“Car travel offers the level of comfort and flexibility people may be looking for in light of recent challenges with flying,” says Twidale.

Courchesne admits she’s one of the lucky ones, and not just because Delta helped fund her Jolly Rancher repair. After initially being told her trip would be delayed by about 28 hours, she said a Delta concierge was able to book her on a late flight Friday night. to take her to Cleveland. She looks forward to spending time with her grandmother and celebrating her family’s birthday, but it won’t last long. She was thinking about the flight back to Washington on Monday – one that included another layover at LaGuardia.

“I’m trying to make fireworks in DC,” she said. “I hope the return goes a bit smoother, but I don’t really have plans for that.”

Lori Aratani, Hannah Sampson and James Bikales contributed to this report.

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