Thousands of flights delayed, cancelled on July 4 due to staffing shortages

Thousands of flights delayed, cancelled on July 4 due to staffing shortages

Travelers are returning to airports in record pre-pandemic numbers this July 4th holiday weekend, but still face thousands of delayed and cancelled flights, data shows.

The Transportation Security AdministrationTransportation Security Administration screened 2,490, 490 passengers at airport security checkpoints on Friday, the highest number since Feb. 11, 2020 when the agency screened more than 2.5 million passengers, agency spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said on Saturday.

On the same day, 464 US domestic and international flights were cancelled and more than 6,600 were delayed, according to Flight Tracker FlightAware, which noted that those made up 28.8% of scheduled flights overall.

More than 930 flights within, into, or out of the U.S. were delayed on Sunday morning, and more than 200 flights were cancelled, according to FlightAware. The highest delays and cancellations were New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

Fifty-three flights into, or out of the U.S. have already been cancelled on July 4th, according to FlightAware.

Sunday's cancellations followed Saturday's 5,893 delayed flights and 655 cancelled flights within, into or out of the U.S. The July 4th weekend flight cancellations and delays follow those of Juneteenth and Father's Day weekend, which included the busiest air travel day of the year prior to July 1 and saw more than 3,300 flight cancellations from Friday- Monday and Memorial Day weekend, when about 2,700 flights were cancelled.

The surge in cancellations follows staff shortages, and a pilot shortage, which has led some airlines to cut thousands of flights for the summer season.

Airline executives blamed understaffing at the Federal Aviation Administration for flight cancellations and delays, but the FAA disputed that claim in an official statement.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he wanted to see how air travel over the July Fourth weekend and the rest of the summer went before deciding whether or not his department would take enforcement actions against airlines in an interview with the AP last month.

Buttigieg tweeted on Saturday about how passengers could claim refunds for cancelled flights, noting that his own connecting flight was cancelled Friday night and that he claimed a $112 refund.

There are airlines that offer miles as compensation for some travel issues, and you can negotiate on this. That is between you and the airline, Buttiegieg tweeted. You have the right to cash refunds for canceled flights, but that is a requirement that we will continue to enforce. Kathleen Bangs, a spokeswoman for FlightAware, told NBC News she expects the wave of cancellations to stabilize by the fall, as airlines reduce their schedules and aim to hire more pilots and other airline workers.