Barrett Lynn was on his way from Washington, D.C. to attend the wedding of one of his best friends in college in Thousand Oaks, California, when his flight was delayed before the 4th of July weekend.
The 34-year-old transportation project manager and his husband had flown to Newark, New Jersey, where they were supposed to change planes, when a United Airlines flight to Los Angeles was delayed by four hours due to a maintenance issue.
After several further delays, the couple boarded the plane Wednesday night with other passengers, and sat at the gate for three hours.
Eventually the airline let them off the plane, and the flight was delayed until morning. Hotels were full, so the couple slept in cots on the airport floor.
“I think I probably slept for an hour,” Lynn told USA TODAY. By the time the flight finally took off the next morning, it was over 14 hours late.
Don’t blame those who attended: Pilot shortage driving airline reliability struggles this summer
Lynn said United gave the couple a total of $60 in food vouchers and $300 in airline credit each. A customer service representative also told Lynn that the airline would refund the miles he used for the flight (her husband booked separately and has not yet contacted customer service). And while he’s planning to skip the wedding rehearsal to rest, he’ll try to enjoy the trip and the occasion.
“You can talk about your travel drama a little bit…but the focus is on the bride and groom and the wedding,” he said. “So, I’m going to do my best not to be the main character this weekend.”
Demand for flights And airlines are cumbersome trying to get people where they want to go. For travelers, it’s more important than ever to be patient and prepare for changes, especially heading into the weekend that is sure to bring bigger crowds to airports.
What is happening at airports today?
At about 2 p.m. ET on Friday, more than 300 US flights were canceled and nearly 2,900 more were delayed, according to the FlightAwarewhich tracks flight status in real time.
Delta Air Lines has had the most cancellations of any airline in the US, with about 80 flights canceled so far, which is about 2% of the airline’s schedule for the day. This figure does not include flights operated by Delta’s regional companies.
The Federal Aviation Administration is warning that the day could get tougher as summer storms threaten to cause problems across swathes of the country.
What is causing the problems?
In the United States, the biggest problem this summer was the shortage of pilots.
Airlines don’t have enough staff to operate all scheduled flights in many cases, and with menus thin, it takes extra time for airlines to recover when something goes wrong.
Pilot shortage: Airlines are struggling with reliability this summer
“We need more pilots to get into the profession as an industry, as a country, and that’s important. Until we address certain things to make that happen, this is going to get sharper,” Andrew Levy, CEO of ultra-low-cost airline Avlo Airlines, told USA TODAY. “The result will be less air service in this country and people will pay higher wages.”
Moreover, the airlines say, the FAA is struggling with staffing at some of its air traffic control centers, which could result in flight departures being delayed until controllers have the bandwidth to handle more incoming aircraft.
“The answer is what the next few months will look like three months ago in terms of staffing and timelines,” said Courtney Miller, founder of Visual Approach Analytics.
Delta Airlines went so far as to issue a Travel waiver allowing customers to rebook their 4th of July flight Without paying change fees or spreads. The waiver is good until July 8th.
Tips for travelers
Joshua Bush, CEO of the Avenue to Travel travel agency, said: Travelers should expect delays and long lines, especially at security and check-in. But they can take steps to reduce disruption.
► For those looking for last-minute flights or booking new ones, consider non-stop travel when possible as Bush said it “eliminates the variables where things can go wrong”, and flying from a major airport or hub where there are more opportunities for redirection.
► I also recommend downloading your airline’s app so you get notifications about changes more quickly, and forgo checked baggage in favor of hand luggage. Not only does it reduce the chance of your luggage getting lost, Bush said, but you could more easily consider flying in standby on another flight.
► If you’re at the airport when your flight is canceled, Bosch advised travelers to go see a gate agent or customer service as soon as possible, something he acknowledges is “much easier said than done” at busy airports. You can also contact by phone, he said that many airline apps have a chat feature.
“You have at least three different options to be able to try to solve the same problem,” he said.
► Travel insurance can come in handy, very. Some insurance companies offer flight stops, delays, and cancellations, and will compensate passengers whose bags are lost so they can buy clothes, or claim money to pay for a hotel or buy food at the airport.
“Every policy is different, so go ahead and definitely look at it,” he said.
Traveling on the Fourth of July? Here are 5 things to know before you fly and drive this weekend.
Summer travel problems: What airlines owe you when flights are canceled or delayed
And while passengers dealing with delays or cancellations are likely to be frustrated, Bosch also urged patience when dealing with gate agents or other representatives.
“If they have 100 people yelling and yelling at them and you are the only one who is kind, patient and kind to them, they will try harder to get you where you want to go,” he said. .
If your flight is canceled and you decide not to rebook, the airline must recover Any unused portion of your ticket for cash.
This is true even if your fare is non-refundable. If you experience significant delays, you may also be entitled to compensation or a refund.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 4th of July air travel can be messy this year:
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