Travelers across the country faced the prospect of canceled or delayed flights on Saturday as airlines and airports handled a combination of high demand, bad weather and lack of staffing.
By late Saturday afternoon, more than 600 flights in the United States had been canceled and nearly 4,400 flights within, in or out of the country were delayed, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.
While the number of problem flights was higher than on a normal travel day, travel demand was also higher. According to the Transportation Security Administration, the number of travelers had reached prepandemic levels during the fourth weekend of July. Travel demand during the same holiday weekend last year had recovered significantly after the pandemics, but was still below this year̵[ads1]7;s level.
FlightAware data showed that the three airports in the United States most affected by cancellations and delays on Saturday were Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago and Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina.
The number of canceled and delayed flights was far below the levels during the previous Christmas and New Year holidays, as bad weather and a lack of Omicron-related personnel created chaos for the airlines’ timetables.
Nevertheless, airlines are trying to keep up with demand this July 4th holiday, as they are struggling with pilot shortages, weather conditions and delays in air traffic control.
“Delta crews continue to cope safely through the complex factors such as bad weather and flight control delays, which affect available flight crew service time,” a Delta Air Lines spokesman said in an email. “Canceling a flight is always our last resort, and we sincerely apologize to our customers for any disruption to their travel plans.”
Delta said that they offer customers the opportunity to reschedule flights from July 1 to July 4 without changes in price if they travel between the same origin and destination.
United Airlines also blamed weather and air traffic control programs for the delays.
To increase the stress at American Airlines was a computer error in their pilot travel trading system which, the airline said, allowed some travel trading that “should not have been allowed”. But American said it did not “foresee any operational impact due to this issue” and added that the “primary drivers for delays / cancellations” on Saturday were “weather and traffic control issues.”
The Federal Aviation Administration said the main reason for flight delays and cancellations was weather conditions followed by travel demand. The agency added in a statement: “The FAA has acted on the issues raised by the airlines and is working with them to share information to keep aircraft moving when weather and other airspace events limit capacity. The agency has also added alternative routes and placed more control in areas of high demand, and increased data sharing. “