Monday, March 27, 2023

Crowds of pre-pandemic size drop to US airports for July 4 holiday weekend

The fourth of July holiday weekend is booming with airport crowds smashing the numbers seen in 2019 ahead of the pandemic.

Travelers appeared to have experienced fewer delays and canceled flights on Friday than earlier this week.

The Transportation Security Administration on Thursday selected more than 2.4 million passengers at airport checkpoints, 17% more than on the same Friday before July 4, 2019.

“We expect (Friday) to be busy, of course, and then Sunday will be very busy,” TSA administrator David Pekoske told NBC’s “Today” program.

AAA predicts that nearly 48 million people will travel at least 50 miles or more from home over the weekend, slightly less than in 2019. AAA says car travel will set a record even with the national average price for gasoline moving close to $ 5.

Recreational travel has returned this year, and this means especially large crowds over holidays.

Airline Passengers Arrive At Chicago'S Midway International Airport On The First Day Of The 4Th Of July Holiday Weekend Friday, July 1, 2022, In Chicago.  The Fourth Of July Holiday Weekend Is Booming With Airport Crowds Smashing The Numbers Seen In 2019 Ahead Of The Pandemic.

via Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press

Airline passengers arrive at Chicago’s Midway International Airport on the first day of the 4th of July holiday weekend Friday, July 1, 2022, in Chicago. The fourth of July holiday weekend is booming with airport crowds smashing the numbers seen in 2019 ahead of the pandemic.

With many flights sold out over the Fourth of July weekend, airlines will struggle to find seats for passengers whose flights have been canceled. Airlines advise customers to check the status of their flight before going to the airport.

If you’re already at the airport when your flight is canceled, “it’s time to flex your multitasking skills,” said Sebastian Modak, editor-in-chief of travel guide publisher Lonely Planet. He recommends going straight to the airline’s help desk, checking its application on your phone, and calling the airline’s customer service line – an international number may be answered sooner than an American one for airlines that have both.

Modak said driving or taking the bus or train will often be a better option in the US this summer.

“There is no circumvention to the fact that it is going to be a summer of travel delays, cancellations and frustrations,” he said.

While holidaymakers scramble to airports and restaurants along the way, business travel and international flights remain depressed, and the total number of people flying has not fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels. TSA selected 11% fewer people in June than in the same month of 2019.

Thursday was the 11th time since the pandemic began that TSA has checked more people than it did on the same day in 2019, and only the second time since February.

Airlines can almost certainly carry more passengers if they have enough staff. Many U.S. airlines have cut their summer schedules after bad weather, air traffic delays and a lack of enough employees caused widespread cancellations over Memorial Day weekend.

Airline executives blame their flight problems on the Federal Aviation Administration, which manages the country’s air traffic control system, but Transport Minister Pete Buttigieg disputes that allegation.

By mid-Friday on the East Coast, airlines had canceled more than 350 U.S. flights and another 3,700 were delayed. From June 22 to Wednesday, at least 600 flights were canceled, and between 4,000 and 7,000 were delayed per day, according to the tracking service FlightAware.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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