Travelers are returning to airports in record pre-pandemic numbers this July Fourth holiday weekend but continue to face thousands of flight delays and cancellations, data shows.
The Transportation Security Administration screened 2,490,490 passengers at airport security checkpoints Friday — the most since Feb. 11, 2020, when it screened more than 2.5 million passengers, agency spokesperson Lisa Farbstein tweeted Saturday.
The same day, 464 U.S. domestic and international flights were canceled and more than 6,600 were delayed, according to the flight tracker FlightAware, which noted that they were 28.8% of scheduled flights overall.
More than 930 flights within, into or out of the U.S. were delayed Sunday morning, and more than 200 were canceled, according to FlightAware. New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport had the highest rates of delays and cancellations.
Fifty-three flights within into, or out of the U.S. had already been canceled for the Fourth of July as of Sunday morning, according to FlightAware.
Sunday’s cancellations followed Saturday’s 5,893 delays and 655 cancellations within, into or out of the U.S.
The July Fourth weekend flight cancellations and delays also follow those of Juneteenth and Father’s Day weekend, which included the busiest air travel day of the year before Friday and had more than 3,300 flight cancellations from Friday to Monday, and Memorial Day weekend, when about 2,700 flights were canceled.
Staffing shortages, and a pilot shortage in particular, have led some airlines to pre-emptively cut thousands of flights for the summer season.
Airline executives have blamed understaffing at the Federal Aviation Administration for flight cancellations and delays. The FAA disputed the claim in a statement.
In an interview last month with The Associated Press, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he wanted to wait to see how air travel over the July Fourth weekend and the rest of the summer went before he determines whether his department will take enforcement action against airlines.
Buttigieg tweeted Saturday that passengers can claim refunds for canceled flights, noting in a thread that his own connecting flight was canceled Friday night and that he claimed a $112 refund.
“Airlines offer miles as compensation for some travel issues, and you can often negotiate on this. That’s between you and the airline,” Buttigieg tweeted. “But you are entitled to cash refunds for canceled flights — that’s a requirement that we will continue to enforce.”
FlightAware spokeswoman Kathleen Bangs has said she expects the wave of cancellations to stabilize by the fall as airlines reduce their schedules and aim to hire more pilots and other airline workers.