Thousands of flights were delayed, and hundreds canceled Friday evening amid pilot and crew shortages, as industry experts warned of travel chaos this Independence Day holiday weekend.
More than 7,800 flights were delayed within, into, or out of the US, and 586 canceled, according to FlightAware.
As of Saturday morning at 0930 ET, 373 delays and 66 cancelations have already been reported, with the bulk of disruptions across airports in New York City and Washington–Baltimore metropolitan regions.
Independence Day holiday weekend is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. Auto club AAA anticipates 3.5 million air travelers this holiday weekend as airlines struggle to keep up with the soaring demand amid labor shortages.
"We're now going into the Independence Day Holiday weekend and are concerned that our customers' plans will be disrupted once again," Captain Jason Ambrosi, Chairman of the Delta Master Executive Council (MEC), a unit of the Air Line Pilots Association, said in a statement.
Ambrosi continued: "The perfect storm is occurring. Demand is back, and pilots are flying record amounts of overtime but are still seeing our customers being stranded and their holiday plans ruined."
We expect flight disruptions will increase throughout the day as travel demand surges.
Maybe Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will act tough and tweet at airlines for the misery they're creating. However, airline industry group Airlines for America recently blamed Federal Aviation Administration's understaffing for "crippling" East Coast air traffic. To us, this looks like finger-pointing.