Travelers leaving for the 4th of July weekend have faced delays, overnight stays in airports and even offers of $10,000 to give up seats on oversold flights, as the United States prepares for its holidays of the busiest Independence Day since before the pandemic.
On Friday, nearly 8,000 flights were delayed in the United States, with the worst outages at airports in the New York area.
Forty-five percent of flights were delayed out of LaGuardia, while 44 percent of flights were delayed at John F Kennedy and Newark airports, according to data from Flight Aware.
Their analysis found that JetBlue and Allegiant Air were the worst carriers for long weekend delays, each delaying around 45% of flights.
In some places, passengers have been offered huge sums to get out of oversold flights. Inc. magazine tech columnist Jason Aten reported that passengers was offered $10,000 to give way on an oversold road between Michigan and Minnesota.
Others were pictured sleeping in airports overnight as delays worsened.
Staff shortages and rebounding travel demand are among the reasons for the delays, travel analysts say, and things could get even worse as the weekend continues. Aviation officials have warned that thunderstorms could cause continued delays in eastern cities like Boston, New York and Philadelphia.
Nearly 2.5 million U.S. travelers passed through airports on Friday, according to the Transportation Security Administration, about three times the number that did during the same period in 2020. Even as the pandemic rages on, airpots see a similar number of summer travelers as they did. in 2019, according to the TSA.
There were already warning signs before the July 4 rush began.
On Thursday, Delta Airlines pilots picketed outside airports, saying they were frustrated with the pace of contract negotiations and had to work high overtime rates.
During Memorial Day and June 16 weekends, more than 3,000 flights have been canceled and over 19,000 were delayed.
“There’s no getting around the fact that this summer is going to be a summer of travel delays, cancellations and frustrations,” said Sebastian Modak, editor of Lonely Planet, says NPR.
Major carriers, facing staff shortages, retirements and other problems, have tried to cut summer schedules and pack planes to avoid further problems.
The travel chaos has some wondering if Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who had no previous experience in public transportation before being appointed to the Biden administration, is up to the task. Equally harsh criticism is directed at the airlines, which received $54 billion in pandemic relief fundspartly to retain staff and avoid widespread delays.
“During the pandemic, when air travel almost came to a standstill, American taxpayers came to the rescue and donated $54 billion to the airline industry,” said Senator Bernie Sanders. wrote to Mr. Buttigieg in a letter on Wednesday. “The eight major airlines alone have received nearly $50 billion in taxpayer assistance from the federal government. Considering all of the generous taxpayer support that has been provided to the airline industry, we all responsibility to ensure that passengers and crew members are treated with respect and not with contempt.
Mr Sanders argued that the Department of Transportation should fine airlines $55,000 per passenger for every flight cancellation they know cannot be fully staffed and $15,000 per passenger for each extended delay on domestic and international flights.
On Thursday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian wrote a letter apologize to customers.
“We have spent years making Delta the industry leader in reliability, and while the majority of our flights continue to operate on time, this level of disruption and uncertainty is unacceptable,” says the letter.
The Independent Gt