More than 1750 domestic or international flights departing from or arriving in the United States were canceled Thursday, causing travel chaos that spilled into Friday with over 1300 cancellations as of late afternoon.
Thursday saw 1759 canceled flights with an additional 8,833 delays, data from flight-tracking website Flight Aware shows. The brunt of the travel nightmare impacted those at east coast airports, with 40 percent of flights being nixed at New York’s Laguardia Airport and another 40 percent being delayed. Newark Liberty International in New Jersey experienced comparable interruptions, with 40 percent of flights being delayed and another 28 percent canceled. Another 41 percent of flights departed following delays at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina.
KENS5 journalist Natassia Henry said in a tweet that there was a “crazy scene at LaGuardia” Thursday.
— Natassia Henry (@NatassiaTV) June 16, 2022
“Never made it out LaGuardia …. After being in the airport for almost 8 hours my flight was canceled,” one traveler tweeted. “I feel so bad that I couldn’t go visit my mom.”
— ✭ Leslie ✭ (@NYNC214) June 17, 2022
Thursday’s hiccups continued into Friday as 1,365 flights were scrapped by the evening, according to FlightAware. LaGuardia again led the pack with the highest domestic airport cancellation rate at 19 percent, while 25 percent of flights were delayed. At Charlotte Douglas, some 33 percent saw delays, as did 28 percent of flights at Newark International.
Sean Cudahy, a reporter for travel website The Points Guy, tweeted that four scrapped nixed delayed a trip from New York City to North Carolina:
Glad to be back in North Carolina after my two-day trip turned three-day trip that involved four cancellations, plus a two-hour delay and a three-hour wait on the tarmac. Cleared standby after a race from LaGuardia to JFK this morning. pic.twitter.com/OjkMHrxWH4
— Sean Cudahy (@SeanCudahy) June 17, 2022
Widespread pilot staffing issues throughout the industry are impacting operations, the Associated Press reported, adding that Thursday’s sweeping cancellations “happened as airline CEOs held a virtual meeting with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.” Citing an anonymous source familiar with the meeting, the AP wrote that Buttigieg “pushed airlines to examine whether they can handle the schedules that they have published.”
In April, CNBC reported it obtained an email to JetBlue employees from the company’s Chief Operating Officer and President Jennifer Geraghty announcing employees can expect capacity reductions throughout the summer.
“We’ve already reduced May capacity 8-10% and you can expect to see a similar size capacity pull for the remainder of the summer,” Geraghty’s email reportedly said.
The airline later publicly stated that it was “staffing constrained” even though it hired “more than 3,000 new crew-members” up to that point in 2022, per a statement obtained by NBC News.
The more than 3,000 cancellations between Thursday and Friday eclipsed numbers from Memorial Day weekend, which saw extensive cancellations. Over the holiday weekend, upwards of 2,500 flights were called off, Breitbart News noted, citing Reuters.