Hundreds of millions traveling for Labor Day in US


FILE – A man sleeps on the terminal floor at Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Dec. 18, 2017, in Atlanta. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has warned airlines that his department could draft new rules around passenger rights if the carriers don’t give more help to travelers trapped by flight cancellations and delays. The Transportation Department on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022, released a copy of the letters, which it said were sent to CEOs of the major U.S. airlines, their regional affiliates, and budget carriers. (AP Photo John Amis, File)

(NewsNation) — Millions of Americans are expected to travel this Labor Day weekend, once again traversing the country at pre-pandemic levels. Airports, however, have not returned to their pre-pandemic operation levels and gas prices remain high, causing headaches.

An estimated 137 million Americans are expected to travel this weekend, 12.7 by flight, according to AAA, a 20% increase since the pre-pandemic days of 2019.

As of 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, there have been 970 flights delayed and 98 flights canceled in the U.S., according to the flight tracking service FlightAware.

Airports have been struggling all year to keep up with travel demands even outside of holiday weekends, which come along to only further exacerbate the obstacles travelers are encountering trying to fly.

FlightAware reported 3,837 flights were delayed and 145 flights were canceled in the U.S. on Saturday.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg continues to grapple with airlines over how to fix the trove of problems travelers reports trying to fly. Last month, he warned airlines his department could pursue the implementation of new rules for passenger rights if airlines did not come up with their own solutions to aid travelers trapped by cancelations and delays.

Buttigieg asked airlines, at a minimum, to provide lodging to stranded travelers and meal vouchers to those stuck at airports thanks to delays and cancellations.

Airlines responded by saying they were “committed” to providing the “highest” levels of service to their customers.

Earlier this week Buttigieg’s department launched a new dashboard for travelers to track flight cancelations and delays, while also giving them a look at what type of compensations and refunds are available to them, if any.

“Passengers deserve transparency and clarity on what to expect from an airline when there is a cancelation or disruption,” Buttigieg said in a statement Wednesday. The new tool, he said, will help travelers to “easily understand their rights, compare airline practices, and make informed decisions.”

Americans traveling the country on the roads and highways Labor Day weekend will find gas prices averaging $3.79 per gallon nationwide, significantly lower than June highs sitting over $5 per gallon, but demonstrably higher than pre-pandemic prices.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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