Thousands of flights delayed or canceled as travel kicks off on July 4th

Travelers across the country faced the prospect of canceled or delayed flights on Saturday as airlines and airports dealt with a combination of high demand, bad weather and staff shortages.

As of Saturday night, nearly 650 flights were canceled in the United States and more than 5,200 were delayed within, within or outside the country, According to flight-tracking website FlightAware.

While the number of problematic flights was higher than on a typical day of travel, the demand for travel was also higher. According to the Transportation Security AdministrationDuring the 4th of July weekend, the number of travelers reached pre-pandemic levels. Travel demand over the same weekend last year largely recovered from pandemic lows but remained below this year’s levels.

FlightAware data showed that the three US airports hardest hit by cancellations and delays on Saturday were Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Kennedy Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in the New York area.

The number of canceled and delayed flights was well below levels during the Christmas and New Year holidays, when bad weather and staff shortages linked to Omicron wreaked havoc on airlines’ schedules.

However, airlines are scrambling to keep up with demand for the July 4th holiday, as they struggle with pilot shortages, weather conditions and air traffic control delays.

“Delta teams continue to safely manage through the compounding factors of bad weather and air traffic control delays, which affect available flight crew work time,” a spokesperson for Delta Airlines said in an email. “Flight cancellation is always a last resort, and we sincerely apologize to our customers for any disruption to their travel plans.”

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Delta said it is offering customers the ability to reschedule flights from July 1 to July 4 without changing prices if they are flying between the same destination and source.

United Airlines also blamed weather and air traffic control programs for the delays.

Adding to the tension at American Airlines was a computer glitch in the test flight trading system, which the airline said allowed some trading of flights that “shouldn’t have been allowed.” But American said it did not “expect any operational impact from this issue” and added that the “primary drivers of delays/cancellations” on Saturday were “weather and traffic control issues.”

The Federal Aviation Administration said the main reason for flight delays and cancellations was weather conditions, followed by travel demand. “The FAA has acted on issues raised by airlines, and is working with them to share information to keep aircraft moving safely when weather and other airspace events restrict capacity. The agency has also added alternative routes and placed more demand zone controllers,” the agency added in a statement. high, and increased data sharing.”

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