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  • Writer's pictureMaddie Cohen

Why Are There So Many Flight Cancellations and Delays This Summer?

Chances are you’ve either experienced or heard about the airport headaches travelers have been facing lately.

Flight cancellations, major delays, lost luggage—flying has been, for lack of a better word, a bit bumpy these past few months. Between May 30 and July 25, 2.1% of flights from U.S. carriers were cancelled. 22.3% of them were delayed—that’s 296,435 altogether, with an average delay of just shy of an hour.

Yikes. And there are several reasons for these hiccups. From layoffs to a spike in the number of people traveling, there are many factors at play in the flight disruptions we’re seeing. Here are some of the causes:

Pilot Shortages

It feels like yesterday that I was on a Delta flight from LAX to MSP—only there was no pilot, and we had to disembark after an hour, and the flight was ultimately cancelled. (Side note: It was two days ago.) An industry-wide pilot shortage, and airline pilot union strikes, have resulted in more cancellations.

Pandemic Layoffs

Remember March 2020, when air travel came to a virtual halt? Naturally, both domestic and international carriers are still recovering from the pandemic layoffs they were forced to make. This summer, air travel appears to have resumed to pre-COVID-19 levels—yet many airlines are still playing catchup.

Extreme Weather

Consider the following weather scenarios: booming thunder in the Rockies, flooding in the Southeast, and heat so intense the tarmac literally began to melt in the UK. Extreme weather events have taken the world by storm (pun intended) this summer, and the chaotic flight schedules we’re seeing are here to show it.

Fortunately, things generally work out. I got on another flight with relative ease, and if you find yourself in my position, I’m confident you will too.

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