Flight delays, cancellations rise as summer travel heats up

U.S.

(NewsNation) —Thousands of flights nationwide are being delayed and hundreds more canceled everyday as airlines struggle to keep up with an influx of summer travelers.

Despite the high number of delays and cancelations, experts believe travelers and airlines still have not seen the worst of what is yet to come with the 4th of July holiday right around the corner.

Now travelers are stuck in the middle of a blame game being played between airlines and federal officials over whose fault it is travel woes have become so common. Travelers are also paying more for flights, the cost of which have risen 30% since April.

Airlines say they’re doing everything they can to mitigate the travel complications plaguing travelers around the country, including hiring more pilots and customer service agents.

Those airlines are pointing the finger of blame at the Federal Aviation Administration, saying delays and cancelations stem from “crippling” traffic on the East Coast.

Airlines for America, which represents the largest group of carriers in the U.S., is asking for the FAA’s plan for the 4th of July weekend so they can “plan accordingly.”

FILE – Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, on Nov. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

“The industry is actively and nimbly doing everything possible to create a positive customer experience since it is in an airline’s inherent interest to keep customers happy, so they return for future business,” Nicholas Calio, president of the trade group, said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Buttigieg, meanwhile, is threatening to punish airlines that do not meet consumer protection standards.

The FAA shot back at carriers’ complaints, with a reference to taxpayer money that airlines received after the pandemic devastated air travel.

“People expect when they buy an airline ticket that they’ll get where they need to go safely, efficiently, reliably and affordably,” the FAA said in a statement. “After receiving $54 billion in pandemic relief to help save the airlines from mass layoffs and bankruptcy, the American people deserve to have their expectations met.”

United Airlines became the first carrier to trim summer flights this week amid all the travel chaos, cutting 50 flights from Newark, N.J.

Customers, meanwhile, are left frustrated and angry with delays and cancelations as the FAA and airlines exchange bitter words over who is to blame for the mess.

“It’s been delayed twice, so I’m actually trying to find an alternate flight to get back home to Florida,” said air traveler Deb Gagne at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

Neil Shah is another traveler dealing with multiple setbacks at the airport, including waiting hours for his luggage.

“Flying out of Tucson for a work trip and my bag never left Tucson because my flight was canceled,” Shah said. “And then I was delayed three times.”

Willis Orlando, the senior flight expert at Scott’s Cheap Flights, said the best strategy for summer travel might be to wait.

“The better strategy? Wait it out, spend your summer grilling at home, enjoying yourself, and then when September comes, grab a deal because we’re seeing phenomenal deals for September,” Orlando said.“

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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