The usual chaotic holiday weekend traveling drama has become even more complicated by flight cancellations this Memorial Day weekend.
The kickoff to the summer travel season saw cancellations piling up on Saturday night.
More than 1,500 flights were canceled, according to flight tracking website FlightAware. That followed more than 2,300 cancellations on Friday.
Delta Air Lines, which had already issued a warning that it was trimming its summer schedule, suffered the most among US airlines, with more than 250 flights, or 9% of its operations, eliminated on Saturday.
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Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, where Delta is based, had heavy travel delays. On Saturday, 5% of the flights there were canceled, while 16% were delayed.
Delta explained that Saturday’s cancellations were due to bad weather and “air traffic control actions,” noted in an email to The Associated Press.
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The carrier said it was trying to cancel flights at least 24 hours in advance.
Delta announced on its website on Thursday that from July 1 to Aug. 7, it would reduce service by about 100 daily departures, primarily in parts of the US and Latin America that Delta frequently serves.
Delta Chief Customer Experience Officer Allison Ausband said at that time, that a variety of factors from weather and air traffic control, vendor staffing and increased COVID case rates creating unscheduled absences, have resulted “in an operation that isn’t consistently up to the standards .”
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Many forecasters believe the number of travelers will match or even surpass levels in the good-old, pre-pandemic days. However, airlines have thousands of fewer employees than they did in 2019, and that has at times contributed to widespread flight cancellations.
On top of it all, travelers are also experiencing sticker shock.
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The travel data firm Hopper reports domestic airline fares for summer are averaging more than $400 for a round trip, 24% higher than this time in 2019, before the pandemic, and a robust 45% higher than a year ago.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.