Storm activity is expected to decrease over the holiday weekend. That won’t offer much comfort to those passengers whose flights are rescheduled or delayed.
Upsurge in flight cancellations and delays ahead of the Fourth of July holiday
The good news for Fourth of July vacationers is this: Storms are less likely to cause travel problems as we approach the long weekend.
The recent disasters, however, have demonstrated that the country’s air travel system will struggle to get travelers to their destinations on schedule if severe storms do develop again.
And a record number of summer travelers would be impacted this weekend.
According to AAA, 51 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home during the next few days, an increase of more than 4% from 2022 and a record-breaking number for the holiday.
The volume of both air and ground travel is anticipated to reach new highs. Over the Fourth of July weekend, according to AAA projections, 4.17 million people would fly to their destinations, up 6.6% from 2019 and 11.2% from 2022. 8.2% of people travel by air, which is the biggest share in almost 20 years, according to the report.
Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, stated in a statement, “We’ve never projected travel numbers this high for Independence Day weekend.” Although there are fewer flights overall and prices are higher, she claimed that “consumers are not cutting back on travel this summer.”
At Los Angeles International Airport’s departure area check-in, passengers wait in line.
At the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, passengers wait in line at the departure area check-in. AAP’s Damian Dovarganes
The Transportation Security Administration’s data, which constantly exceeds 2019’s pre-pandemic numbers for daily passenger screening, backs AAA’s estimations. The number of screenings reached a new post-pandemic daily high of around 2.8 million earlier this month.
One of the strongest indications yet is that travel restrictions from the pandemic era are completely behind us.
These record loads created the conditions for probably tens of thousands of travelers to experience delays and cancellations earlier this week due to severe thunderstorms and a technical issue in Washington, D.C.
Approximately 30,000 American flights have been rescheduled or delayed since last weekend. Thursday brought more headaches as storms at Nashville International Airport in Tennessee prompted a ground stop.
This week, pictures and complaints from stranded passengers filled social media.
However, according to forecasts for the Fourth of July holiday, there is a “little less” chance of thunderstorms, according to Bryan Jackson of NOAA. He also noted that any storms that do develop, particularly over the Eastern Seaboard, are probably “not as potent” because of improved airflows.
That won’t offer much comfort to the affected travelers. Airlines and regulators claim to be aware of the persistent difficulties.
Late on Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted about the issues and advised passengers to visit FlightRights.gov to learn about their possibilities for reimbursement.
Clint Henderson, managing editor of the travel website The Points Guy, argues that this is problematic because the majority of those rights only apply to uncontrollable or non-weather situations.
The Transportation Department announced on Thursday that it was looking into “a number of domestic airlines to make sure they are not engaging in unrealistic flight scheduling.” An inquiry for more details was not answered by the organization.
Airlines for America, a U.S. industry trade group, said in a statement that airlines are putting in nonstop labor to get ready for record air traffic this summer. It stated that in order to “reflect today’s operational realities, including FAA staffing shortages,” airlines have been aggressively hiring and cutting schedules.
Carriers are running 10% fewer flights than in 2019 while providing 12–14% more seats, according to the statement, “to reduce pressure on the National Airspace System amid air traffic controller staffing shortages.”
The FAA denied that any shortages affected recent operations in a statement. Henderson, however, claimed that it appeared that freshly hired, less experienced controllers decided to cancel more flights over the course of the last weekend than may have been necessary.
He claimed that there were inexperienced workers there who drastically reduced the number of flights.
Henderson thinks there should be a written bill of rights for passengers that covers compensation for bad weather.
“The airlines have had a chance to turn things around for years now,” he remarked. The epidemic also resulted in consumer bailouts for them. How much leeway are we going to give airlines in this case?