Americans didn’t let high gas prices and airport chaos deter them that July 4th.
Millions of travelers crowded into airports and many were confronted with chaos as thousands of flights were delayed or cancelled.
The Transportation Security Administration estimates it screened more than 6 million people from Friday through Sunday — a number close to pre-pandemic levels. Nearly 2.5 million passengers were screened on Friday alone, making it the busiest day at US airports since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
This amid growing demand, staff shortages and high gas prices, a combination that led to it Headache for hundreds of thousands of travelers. Nearly 17,000 flights were delayed over the weekend and more than 1,400 were canceled, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.
One of those frustrated passengers is Alam Khan, whose flight from New Jersey to Toronto was canceled days before his wedding.
“We just got here, they told us right away it was cancelled,” Khan said.
Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg was under pressure to address the mess.
“It’s something that affects us all and it impacts the economy when that happens because so many people can’t get to where they need to be for work, so many people can’t get to their loved ones,” he said he “Sunday Morning” on CBS.
Buttigieg is urging airlines to do better, noting the industry received a $54 billion bailout at the height of the pandemic.
“We sent a lot of taxpayer money specifically to keep these airlines on staff,” he said. “And now they need the people and they need the resources to get people where they need to go.”
More flights were delayed this year than any other year in the last decade. Lack of staff is one of the biggest factors, especially for pilots. Just last Thursday Delta pilots protested across the country to demand higher wages and better working conditions.
The chaos at airports could be why 42 million Americans have opted to bypass airports entirely this holiday and take to the streets instead – despite almost record high gas prices.
That’s what Khan ended up doing so he could make it to his wedding. He drove more than nine hours to Toronto after his rebooked flight from Newark was also canceled.