Yet another holiday weekend was snarled by air travel headaches Saturday, as dozens of flights at Boston’s Logan International Airport were canceled or delayed amid recent bad weather and nationwide airline staffing shortages.
Saturday’s problems echoed a miserable Memorial Day weekend for air travelers, when nearly 2,800 flights were canceled across the country, and more than 21,000 more were delayed, according to Flightaware.com.
Concerns are mounting that the travel woes will remain a problem as the July 4 holiday draws close. Federal leaders, including US Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, have called on the airline industry to do more to ease the disruptions’ impact on travelers. And US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg privately met with airline leaders Thursday to address the ongoing problems.
On Saturday, 57 flights had been canceled at Logan and nearly 200 others delayed by about 11 p.m., according to Flightaware. The flight tracking site reported 125 cancellations at Logan on Friday, and more than 550 delayed flights.
The service interruptions followed delays for hundreds of flights at Logan on Thursday night, after the Federal Aviation Administration ordered a ground stop at the airport due to stormy weather along the East Coast.
Flights were delayed at Logan by an average about two hours during Thursday’s ground stop, according to the federal agency.
The airport posted a brief statement Friday on social media and its website, advising people to check with their airlines on the status of their flights before coming to the airport due to the recent delays and cancellations.
The delayed and canceled flights came after Buttigieg privately met with airline leaders to discuss their plans to ensure smooth travel for the July 4 holiday and the rest of the summer.
He also called on them to improve accommodations for passengers when flights are canceled, the Associated Press reported, and examine whether airlines can handle the schedules they have published.
“I let them know that this is a moment when we are really counting on them to deliver reliably for the traveling public,” Buttigieg said in an interview with NBC News.
According to the Transportation Security Administration, an average of more than 2.2 million travelers per day have passed through airport checkpoints so far this month. That figure is up by about 400,000 from the same period last year, but remains below travel numbers reported before the pandemic.
Air travel is only expected to get busier this summer, after President Biden lifted a requirement earlier this month that international travelers take COVID-19 tests before boarding flights.
Airlines have blamed bad weather this summer for the delays. In addition, pilot unions for Delta, America, and Southwest have said airlines moved too slowly to replace pilots who retired or took leaves of absence early in the pandemic, according to the Associated Press.
Markey praised Buttigieg on Friday for meeting with the airlines and said both he and Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut have serious concerns about the increase in flight cancellations.
“Passengers shouldn’t be penalized for the airlines’ mismanagement and poor planning,” Markey said in a Twitter post Friday.
Markey and Blumenthal have criticized airlines’ handling of the nation’s air travel woes after many flights were canceled or delayed in recent months, including over Memorial Day weekend.
In a joint statement earlier this month, Markey and Blumenthal called on airlines to mitigate future delays and cancellations and take steps such as issuing earlier notifications to passengers in cases of expected inclement weather.
While some of these factors are outside of airlines’ control, the senators said, those air travel issues “pose significant hardships to the travelling public, and we are disappointed that these delays and cancellations are occurring so frequently that they are becoming an almost-expected part of travel,” the statement said.
John Hilliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.