Bumpy travel continues for Spirit, American Airlines flyers

U.S.

(NewsNation Now) — Delays and cancellations continued for American Airlines and Spirit Airlines passengers, though both companies say things should be smoothing out.

“Our Spirit flight was 4 a.m. this morning,” Sarah Estes said. “And we were notified last night at around 9 a.m. that our flight had been canceled.

“We didn’t get a reason for why it was canceled.”   

American Airlines said Wednesday they canceled more flights due to problems with weather out of Texas, but the issue has lasted for several days.

By Tuesday, American canceled nearly 300 flights, which is 9% of its schedule. Monday, it was 600. That came after another 300 were canceled Sunday.

Spirit Airlines canceled more than 400 flights, or about 60% of its total schedule Wednesday. So far, 37 of its flights are canceled Thursday, according to flightaware.com.

A Spirit spokesman told The Associated Press the low-cost carrier was proactively canceling some flights — dropping them before most passengers drive to the airport — to “reset” the operation.

“We’re working around the clock to mitigate the travel disruptions caused by overlapping operational challenges including weather, system outages and staffing shortages in some areas of the operation,” spokesman Erik Hofmeyer said. “We’re working to provide refunds for cancellations and, when possible, to re-accommodate our guests” on other flights.

A person familiar with the situation said Spirit experienced an outage Tuesday morning affecting crew scheduling, preventing airline officials from rescheduling crews to cover gaps. The person, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said crews were stranded in many places around the country and unable to get to assigned flights.

On Monday, Florida-based Spirit scrapped more than 330 flights, or 42% of its schedule, more than double the rate of American Airlines, the next poorest performer among major U.S. carriers. Spirit canceled about 20% of its flights on Sunday.

“They’re just playing games with us out here,” one passenger told NewsNation. “We waited in line upstairs for a while. They took care of three people and sent the rest of us down here. Our kids are going to miss their events.”

“A prolonged severe weather event in Dallas Fort-Worth on Sunday night into Monday morning brought sustained heavy rain, strong winds, lightning, microbursts and hail to our largest hub,” an American Airlines statement said. “The nine-hour weather event resulted in flight delays, cancellations and nearly 100 diversions. our team members are working around the clock to care for our customers.”

The flight disruptions come amid an air travel surge. Customer volume is getting closer to pre-pandemic levels, and airlines are struggling to keep up.

American previously cut more than 40,000 jobs, including furloughs and layoffs during the pandemic in 2020. Now they are preparing to hire hundreds of pilots to help with the demand. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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