Air Travelers Face Cancellations Over Memorial Day Weekend

NEW YORK — Airline travelers are not only facing sticker shock this Memorial Day weekend, the kickoff to the summer travel season. They’re also dealing with a pileup of flight cancellations.

According to FlightAware, more than 1200 flights had been cancelled as of Saturday afternoon at 2 PM EST. This cancellation follows more than 2,300 on Friday.

Delta Air Lines was the worst affected airline in America, losing more than 240 flights or 9 percent of their operations on Saturday. The travel delays were particularly severe at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Atlanta where Delta is located and operates its biggest hub. On Saturday, there was a 5% cancellation rate and 7% delay.

Delta noted in an email to The Associated Press that Saturday’s cancellations were due to bad weather and “air traffic control actions,” noting it’s trying to cancel flights at least 24 hours in advance this Memorial Day weekend.

Delta made it clear on its website Thursday that service would be reduced by around 100 departures per day, principally in the U.S.A and Latin America areas Delta regularly serves.

“More than any time in our history, the various factors currently impacting our operation — weather and air traffic control, vendor staffing, increased COVID case rates contributing to higher-than-planned unscheduled absences in some work groups — are resulting in an operation that isn’t consistently up to the standards Delta has set for the industry in recent years,” said Delta’s Chief Customer Experience Officer Allison Ausband in a post.

Tourist destinations and airlines are expecting huge crowds as travel restrictions decrease and pandemic fatigue overtakes the lingering fear that COVID-19 may be contracted while traveling.

Forecasters predict that the numbers of tourists will be similar to or exceed levels seen in pre-pandemic years. However, many flight cancellations have been caused by the fact that airlines now employ thousands more people than they did in 2019.

People are feeling sticker shock if they are just now making summer travel plans.

Summer domestic airfares are more than $400 round-trip, which is 24% above the rate before the pandemic. It’s also a solid 45% increase over a year earlier, according to Hopper travel data firm.

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