Fresh flight disruptions threaten to mar US Fourth of July holiday travel

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Fresh flight disruptions threaten to mar US Fourth of July holiday travel

The upcoming Fourth of July holiday is expected to see a higher number of Americans traveling by air compared to pre-COVID levels. However, recent flight disruptions have raised concerns about airlines’ ability to handle the summer travel rush.

To prepare for the busy summer season, U.S. airlines have taken measures such as adjusting schedules and increasing staffing. Nevertheless, inclement weather in certain regions poses a risk to travelers during this period.

Despite signs of slowing consumer spending, approximately 51 million Americans are projected to travel 50 miles or more from home between June 30 and July 4, according to travel group AAA. This represents a 4% increase from 2019, which was the previous record year for July 4th travel.

It’s worth noting that the AAA estimates do not include June 29th, which the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expects to be the busiest day for air travel during the holiday.

Flight disruptions occurred last weekend due to thunderstorms and equipment failures at an FAA facility in the Washington D.C. area. This led to significant delays for air travelers along the U.S. East Coast.

Flight-tracking service FlightAware reported that approximately 35,000 flights were delayed and over 7,000 were canceled between June 24th and June 28th.

United Airlines (UAL.O) experienced the most disruptions, with around 19% of its scheduled flights being canceled and about 47% delayed.

While United Airlines stated that its operations were improving, FlightAware data showed that it still canceled 15% of its flights on Thursday, although this was fewer than previous days in the week.

Passengers affected by the disruptions expressed their frustration on social media, citing long lines, flight rebooking delays, and misplaced luggage.

United Airlines apologized to customers on Twitter for the delays in responding to complaints, attributing it to high call volumes.

The airline emphasized its efforts to address the situation, stating, “It’s all-hands-on-deck as our pilots get aircraft moving, contact center teams work overtime to take care of our customers, and our airport customer service staff works tirelessly to deliver bags and board flights.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg referred to the summer travel season as a “stress test” for airline operations. He emphasized the importance of airlines building resilience into their systems to account for uncontrollable factors like weather.

United CEO Scott Kirby, on the other hand, blamed the FAA for exacerbating the situation. In a staff memo, he claimed that over 150,000 United customers were affected due to FAA staffing issues and their impact on traffic management.

Despite the disruptions, United Airlines expects to restore operations for the holiday weekend, during which they anticipate five million people will fly with them. Bookings have increased by approximately 12% compared to last year and are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels.

American Airlines (AAL.O) also anticipates a significant number of customers, with nearly three million expected from June 30 to July 4 across over 26,000 scheduled flights.

While other modes of travel have not yet reached pre-pandemic levels, AAA predicts that 43 million people will drive to their destinations, a 4% increase from 2019. Approximately three million people are expected to travel by bus, cruise, or train, which is a 24% increase from last year but still 5% lower than 2019 levels.

Overall, travel spending has remained strong nationwide, and air carriers anticipate positive results throughout 2023. This aligns with the rising consumer confidence in the U.S., which reached its highest level in nearly one-and-a-half years in June.

In conclusion, the upcoming Fourth of July holiday is expected to see increased air travel, but recent flight disruptions have raised concerns about airlines’ preparedness. Despite these challenges, airlines are working to restore operations and accommodate the surge in travelers.

About News Team

Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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