Air travelers face cancellations over Memorial Day weekend | Health, medicine and fitness

By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO – AP Retail Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Airline travelers aren’t just going to deal with sticker shock this Memorial Day weekend, kicking off the summer travel season. They are also dealing with an accumulation of flight cancellations.

More than 1,200 flights were canceled as of 2 p.m. EDT Saturday, according to FlightAware’s flight-tracking website. That followed on Friday to more than 2,300 cancellations.

Delta Air Lines suffered the most from US carriers, with more than 240 flights, or 9% of its operations, eliminated on Saturday. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, where Delta is located and has its largest hub, was hit hard by the travel delays. On Saturday, 5% of flights there were cancelled, while 7% were delayed.

Delta noted in an email to The Associated Press that Saturday’s cancellations were due to inclement weather and “air traffic control actions,” noting that it is trying to cancel flights at least 24 hours in advance this Memorial Day- weekend.

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Delta announced on its website Thursday that it would reduce service by about 100 daily departures from July 1 to August 7, primarily in parts of the U.S. and Latin America that Delta frequently serves.

“More than ever in our history, the various factors currently impacting our operation—weather and air traffic control, supplier staffing, increased COVID cases contributing to higher-than-planned unplanned absences in some workgroups—are leading to an operation that satisfies not always up to the standards that Delta has set for the industry in recent years,” Delta’s Chief Customer Experience Officer Allison Ausband said in a statement.

Airlines and tourist destinations are anticipating monster crowds this summer as travel restrictions ease and pandemic fatigue overcomes lingering fears of contracting COVID-19 while travelling.

Many forecasters believe the number of travelers will match or even surpass in the good old, pre-pandemic days. However, airlines have thousands fewer employees than in 2019, which has sometimes contributed to widespread flight cancellations.

People who are only now booking travel for the summer are experiencing the sticker shock.

Domestic air fares for the summer average more than $400 for a round trip, 24% higher than this time in 2019, before the pandemic, and a hefty 45% higher than a year ago, according to travel data agency Hopper.

AP Airlines writer David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.

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