The CEO of Delta Airlines has issued an apology for ‘unacceptable’ flight cancelations as some customers in Grand Rapids, Michigan, were offered $10,000 for being bumped off as the nation braces for its busiest travel weekend since the pandemic.
Delta head Ed Bastian told customers that the airline would be adding extra boarding times, improving crew scheduling and bringing on workers after canceling 77 flights and delaying 288 so far on Friday.
‘We’ve spent years establishing Delta as the industry leader in reliability, and though the majority of our flights continue to operate on time, this level of disruption and uncertainty is unacceptable,’ Bastian wrote in a letter to frequent flyer clients.
‘Things won’t change overnight, but we’re on a path towards a steady recovery.’
The apology comes as airlines grip with the hectic Fourth of July weekend travel, with 300 flights within, into, or out of the U.S. already cancelled on Friday noon, and 2,328 flights delayed.
In addition to airport chaos and heavy traffic, holiday travelers will have to contend with higher prices. Average gas prices have soared 56 percent from a year ago, mid-range hotel prices have increased 23 percent, and average lowest airfares are up 14 percent.
In total, AAA projects that 47.9 million Americans will travel for the Fourth this year, up 3.7 percent from last year and close to the historic peak reached in 2019, before the pandemic struck.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport: Passengers wait in line for security as they travel in the Fourth of July weekend, where Delta Airlines has already cancelled 77 flights and delayed 288
Pictured: Flights canceled at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Delta Airlines passengers are using a check-in kiosk as they brace for the hectic travel period
Pictured: Customers waiting for their flights at La Guardia Airport, in Queen, New York
The New York airport has seen 12 percent of its flights delayed as passengers wait in the check-in area
Travel chaos is expected to hit all forms of transportation. Pictured, travelers at Penn Station on their way to the airports
General view or travelers in at La Guardia waiting in line on Friday to board their flights
Travel by bus and train are expected to skyrocket this year, with more than 2 million forecasted to travel this year. Pictured: people buying bus tickets outside Penn Station on Friday
According to flight aware, major airports New York City, Washington D.C., Miami, Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas are seeing the most delays and cancellations on Friday
Drivers sit in slow moving traffic leaving Boston at the start of the long Fourth of July holiday weekend as 42 million are expected to hit the road in the busiest travel period in the nation since the pandemic began
Delta CEO Ed Bastian issued an apology to customers regarding the spate of delays and cancellations
Fourth Of July travel by the numbers
Here’s how the travel projections for this holiday weekend stack up against last year, according to AAA:
- Average gas price: $3.12
- Drivers on the road: 41.8M
- Air travelers: 3.5M
- Others taking trips (bus, train): 900K
- Total travelers: 46.2M
- Average airfare: $176
- Average hotel cost: $198
- Average car rental cost: $166
- Average gas price: $4.86
- Drivers on the road: 42M
- Air travelers: 3.55M
- Others taking trips (bus, train): 2.42M
- Total travelers: 47.9M
- Average airfare: $201
- Average hotel cost: $244
- Average car rental cost: $110
Leading in cancellations so far was Delta Airlines, and the airline is reportedly compensating customers with large sums of money in a flight from Grand Rapids to Minneapolis.
The flight, set to depart from the Gerald R. Ford Airport on Monday, was oversold, and customers were informed that the airline would be offering up to $10,000 to anyone who exited the flight and chose to fly at a later date, KTVB reported.
Jason Aten, a tech columnists, tweeted about the deal, telling the local outlet that he was travelling with a group of six who all rejected the payout in favor of flying on time.
Todd McCrumb, of Boise, Idaho, said he, too, was offered the huge sum.
‘It’s a true story,’ McCrumb wrote on Twitter. ‘I was on that flight!
‘Unfortunately, I could not take advance the offer, as I was flying with my wife who has very limited eyesight. She has to have me nearby when traveling.’
McCrumb told KTVB that he was traveling to West Michigan for a high school graduation ceremony, and that he and other passengers thought the offer was a joke.
He added that he did see several people accept the offer, but he was unsure about how much they really did receive.
One woman with the handle Marie wrote on Aten’s thread that she took the payout, but rather than the $10,000, she and another passenger she was traveling with got $1,000 each.
‘We just took a Delta bump from a 10:00am flight to 6:00 pm flight for $1,000 each,’ she wrote.
‘I thought that was amazing…maybe we should have held out longer.’
Delta did not confirm whether or not passengers were given thousands of dollars to be bumped off the flight, but noted that the airline’s gate agents have the power to do ‘whatever is necessary’ to get flights out on time.
since the start of the summer travel season, Delta has canceled 3,593 flights and delayed 20 percent of its total flights since the Memorial Day weekend.
Travel through Delta is likely to be further complicated after its pilots started picketing on Thursday at several major airports including LAX, JFK and Atlanta, demanding better contracts as crews are allegedly overworked during the holiday rush.
Delta customers in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said the were offered thousands to get off a flight that had been overbooked for Minneapolis
Passengers for Southwest Airlines are pictured waiting in line at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport on Friday
Matthew Mottola carried his dog, Luca, down an escalator as the two head out for the holiday weekend
Passengers at the Atlanta hub are pictured waiting at a security checkpoint before finally boarding their flights
The Atlanta terminal is seeing long lines in what’s predicted to be the busiest travel period in the nation since 2020
Meanwhile, in NYC, travels are already preparing for long waits at the the La Guardia Airport
A group of travelers at the New York hub are pictured waiting to check into their flights
La Guardia has already seen 9 flight cancelations and 69 flight delays as of Friday afternoon
Trains in Queens are also seeing an uptick in passengers heading to the New York airports
While Delta pilots are on strike, American Airlines CEO Robert Isom said on Thursday that its pilots were getting a 17 percent raise, CNBC reported.
The proposal includes an initial 6 percent raise at signing for about 15,000 pilots, with a 5 percent raise at the star of 2023, and then another in 2024.
The deal comes less than a week after United Airlines and its pilot’s union reached an agreement to raise wages by 14 percent within 18 months.
United’s pilot’s union said it hold a special meeting next week to evaluate the airlines offer and see how it stacks with American’s offer.
‘We will not rush to a decision and will work as a unified body to find the best course of action for the entire pilot group,’ the United union said in a statement.
In the week leading up to the Fourth, the number of air travelers has almost returned to 2019 levels, TSA data show
Travel through Delta is likely to be further complicated after its pilots started picketing on Thursday at several major airports including LAX, JFK and Atlanta
Pilots have a long and arduous process toward any strike action so many are protesting and walking picket lines on days off
The unions’ battles come after a recent Air Travel Consumer report from the U.S. Department of Transportation found that there were 3,173 complaints against airlines in April 2022, a dramatic uptick from the 1,136 in April 2021.
In total, the number of industry complaints for April 2022 was 5,079, up from the 3,466 last year.
The report also ranked the major airlines operating in the U.S. based on the percentage of on-time arrivals.
Ranked at the top was Delta Airlines, which had a nearly 82 percent on-time arrivals record in April. Following closely behind was United and Hawaiian Airlines at nearly 81 percent.
American and Alaska Airlines took the fourth and fifth spot, with Southwest Airlines ranking next with only a 70 percent on-time arrival rate.
Jet Blue trailed in last place, with the a 53 percent on-time arrival rate, according to the report.
In addition, the Biden administration is blaming the airlines, saying it received billions in stimulus money to keep afloat during the pandemic and should stick to the schedule it publishes.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said earlier this month that airlines had until July 4 to figure out the issues and work out the kinks so travelers can have a smooth summer holiday.
Buttigieg pushed back earlier this week when the head of the trade group Airlines for America blamed the FAA for delays.
‘The majority of cancellations and the majority of delays have nothing to do with air traffic control staffing,’ Buttigieg told NBC Nightly News.
Sen. Bernie Sanders demanded Washington fine airlines $55,000 per passenger for every flight cancellation they know can’t be fully staffed. He also demanded that the DOT impose a $15,000 fine per passengers facing extended delays on domestic and international flights.
‘The American people are sick of airlines ripping them off, canceling flights at the last minute and delaying flights for hours on end,’ he said.
‘Given all of the generous taxpayer support that has been provided to the airline industry, all of us have a responsibility to make sure that passengers and crew members are treated with respect, not contempt.’
Sens. Edward Markey, of Massachusetts, and Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, asked 10 airline CEOs this week to ‘take immediate action’ to reduce travel disruptions. The senators demanded information about how each airline decides which flights to cancel and the number of consumer refunds requested and granted.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (left) demanded Washington fine airlines $55,000 per passenger for every flight cancelation they know can’t be fully staffed while Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (right) said airlines have until July 4 to figure out the issues and work out the kinks so travelers can have a smooth summer holiday.
A record 42 million people around the United States are expected to hit the road for trips over the Fourth of July holiday weekend despite average gas price surging close to $5 per gallon.
The average U.S. retail price of gasoline recently broke through $5 per gallon for the first time in history. It has gone down slightly and averaged $4.86 on Wednesday.
While the $5 price is not record from an inflation-adjusted basis, it still represents an increase of nearly $2 per gallon from a year earlier.
Despite the higher cost, gasoline demand is only 1 percent below the average for this time of year in the United States, and a record number of people are expected to travel by car for the holiday weekend.
Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, told the Houston Chronicle, ‘The high prices don’t seem to be holding many Americans back from hitting the road with the economy fully reopen.’
The 42 million figure, should it pan out, would surpass 2019’s peak, when 41.5 million people traveled by vehicle on Independence Day, according to the American Automobile Association.
Including air travel, 47.9 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home during the holiday period, just 2 percent less than 2019’s 49 million, but surpassing 2021’s levels, the travel membership organization said.
Researchers argued in a 2021 report that congestion has been building in the US month-by-month since the pandemic (Pictured: Philadelphia rush hour traffic in April 2019)
A graph shows a steep drop in traffic during the pandemic and the steady increase in 2021
‘The volume of travelers we expect to see over Independence Day is a definite sign that summer travel is kicking into high gear,’ said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. ‘Earlier this year, we started seeing the demand for travel increase and it´s not tapering off.’
Among the biggest boost in travel includes those going by train and bus, which is estimated to be about 2.42 million people, a dramatic increase from the 900,000 last year.
Through April 2022, 1.017 trillion vehicle miles were reported, a rate that trails only 2019 and 2018 in terms of pace, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Flight cancelation Q&A: Why are airlines slashing so many flights and what is being done to fix it?
Why are there so many delays and attempts by the airlines to cancel and delay flights?
The airlines are increasingly trying to blame delays on understaffing at the Federal Aviation Administration, which manages the nation’s airspace and hires air-traffic controllers.
The FAA has admitted it’s understaffed, especially in an important air control center in Florida, which has meant a decrease in the quality of service and an increase in delays and cancelations.
Problems were popping up well before the weekend, with some disruptions caused by thunderstorms that slowed air traffic.
Helane Becker, an airline analyst for Cowen, an investment firm, said there are many reasons for the disruptions, including weather, FAA ground stops that last too long and flight crews hitting their legal limit of working hours in a day.
Why are airlines cutting flights?
Many of them, including Delta, Southwest and JetBlue, have trimmed summer schedules to reduce stress on their operations. They are using larger planes, on average, to carry more passengers with the same number of pilots. Those steps haven’t been enough so far this summer.
Are the pilots striking?
The pilots are not striking. Federal law creates a long and difficult process before airline workers can legally go on strike. The pilots are still walking picket lines while remaining on the job at various airports.
The pilots plan to picket, not strike, on the days they’re not scheduled to work in order to bring attention to the issues.
Why are pilots attempting to picket?
Pilots have complained that thinly staffed airlines are asking them to work too many flights, with more pilots reporting fatigue.
The Air Line Pilots Association claimed earlier this week its nearly 14,000 members are working longer hours even as airlines cancel thousands of trips.
What have officials proposed to potentially fix this or punish the airlines?
The Biden administration is blaming the airlines, saying it received billions in stimulus money to keep them afloat during the pandemic and should stick to the schedule it publishes.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said earlier this month that airlines had until July 4 to figure out the issues and work out the kinks so travelers can have a smooth summer holiday.
Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote a letter to Buttigieg demanding he fine airlines $55,000 per passenger for every flight cancellation they know can’t be fully staffed.
Congressional leaders are demanding the airlines provide answers as to why there continues to be disruptions, especially since the industry received $50 billion in relief during the pandemic in an effort to keep business afloat.
US families should suffer high gas prices to protect ‘the liberal world order’, Biden’s economic advisor Brian Deese says when asked what he would say to Americans who can’t afford $4.85 a gallon
Biden economic advisor Brian Deese said that Americans should ‘stand firm’ on paying record-high gas prices because the ‘future of the liberal world order’ is more important.
‘What do you say to those families that say, ‘listen, we can’t afford to pay $4.85 a gallon for months, if not years?’ the director of the National Economic Council was asked on CNN Thursday.
‘What you heard from the president today was a clear articulation of the stakes. This is about the future of the Liberal World Order and we have to stand firm,’ he replied.
Deese added: ‘At the same time, what I would say to that family and Americans across the country is you have a president and an administration that is going to do everything in its power to blunt those price increases and bring those prices down.’
The U.S. cut off all Russian gas after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, and the European Union followed suit, driving up gas and energy prices the world over.
After breaching $5 a gallon for the first time ever, gas prices have fallen back to an average of $4.84 as of Friday.
Conservative critics have leaped on the Biden administration for using the term ‘world order.’
‘The Liberal World Order?! These people are nuts!’ Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., wrote on Twitter.
‘Completely out of touch,’ Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said.
‘What do you say to those families that say, ‘listen, we can’t afford to pay $4.85 a gallon for months, if not years?’ the director of the National Economic Council was asked on CNN Thursday
Brian Deese, the former Clinton and Obama aide who has been the face of Biden’s inflation response – and has put the blame on Putin
– Grew up in Massachusetts before going to Middlebury College and Yale Law School
– Worked at the Center for American Progress before joining Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008, then Obama’s
– Advised Obama on the bailouts of the ‘Big Three’ automakers in 2008
– Worked at BlackRock advising the company on environmental investing before joining Biden White House
-Last week, Deese said that the way to decrease inflation was to tax the rich and reform prescription drug prices
‘Lowering prescription drug costs is one piece. Lowering utility costs by providing tax incentives for energy is another piece, but equally important, lowering the federal deficit by enacting long overdue tax reform,’ Deese told CBS’ Margaret Brennan on ‘Face the Nation.’
-Blamed Big Beef, Big Pork and Big Poultry for rising grocery costs last September
‘One of the interesting findings of the report that we put out today, is that about half of the overall increase in grocery prices can be attributed to significant increases in prices in three products – in beef, in pork and in poultry,’ Deese said.
Deese said 55 to 85 per cent of beef, pork and poultry markets are controlled by four producers.
‘And so when you see that level of consolidation, and the increase in prices, it raises a concern about pandemic profiteering – about companies that are driving price increases in a way that hurts consumers who are going to the grocery store and also isn’t benefiting the actual producers, the farmers and ranchers that growing the product,’ he said.
‘The four top companies in these industries have seen record or near-record profits in the first and second quarter of this year and seen near or approaching record gross margins as well,’ he continued.
‘The Biden administration cares more about the liberal world order than American families,’ Former White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp tweeted.
‘Is Brian Deese a Republican plant? Because this is the easiest midterm ad content I’ve ever seen,’ Republican communicator Matt Whitlock tweeted.
‘The ‘Liberal World Order’ we need to wake up and realize what we really are up against. Biden is nothing more than a puppet for the radical left,’ Fox News contributor Sara A. Carter tweeted.
During a Thursday press conference in Madrid, Biden was repeatedly pressed about how long sanctions against Russia and the subsequent sticker shock on products in the U.S. will last.
‘How long is it fair to expect American drivers and drivers around the world to pay that premium for this war?’ one reporter asked.
‘As long as it takes so Russia cannot, in fact, defeat Ukraine and move beyond Ukraine. This is a critical, critical position for the world,’ Biden responded. ‘I think there’s a lot of things we can do and we will do, but the bottom line is: Ultimately, the reason why gas prices are up is because of Russia. Russia, Russia, Russia.’
While the White House has gone to great lengths to label 8.6 percent inflation as ‘Putin’s Price Hike,’ critics have blamed Biden for not doing enough to spur fuel production at home.
In a speech announcing a three-month gas tax holiday, Biden signaled that Republicans who hit him for high gas prices are suggesting not to support Ukraine.
‘The American people understood. The American people rose to the moment. The American people did what they always have done: defend freedom around the world. They chose to stand with the people of Ukraine,’ Biden said during a speech calling for a three-month gas tax holiday. ‘So for all those Republicans in Congress criticizing me today for high gas prices in America, are you now saying we were wrong to support Ukraine? Are you saying we were wrong to stand up to Putin? Are you saying that we would rather have lower gas prices in America and Putin’s iron fist in Europe? I don’t believe that.’
Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., accused Biden of allowing gas prices as a way to push the Green New Deal.
‘Biden wants the green new deal, and he sees high gas prices as a tool to achieve it. The American people see through this and will reject his radical, anti-American policies in November. The Left is concerned with preserving their power. Republicans will give power back to the people,’ he told DailyMail.com
Biden has taken a number of steps to signal to Americans that he is taking action on gas prices – tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, writing letters to oil and gas executives blasting them for making record profits and urging them to increase oil production to alleviate gasoline prices.
This month Biden will be traveling to Saudi Arabia to talk gas prices with Crown-Prince Mohammed bin Salman and to attend the GCC+3 Summit, to talk oil and gas with Egypt, Jordan and Turkey.
Biden also said on Thursday he was going to Jeddah to meet with gulf nations on oil production.
Gas prices in Martinez, California last week were $6.69 a gallon
Tensions with Saudi Arabia have been high due to human rights violations and the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Biden said he wasn’t going to ask the king or crown prince to release more oil.
‘I’m not gonna ask to him,’ he said. ‘I hope we see them in their own interest concluding that makes sense to do.’
‘I’ve indicated to them that I thought they should be increasing oil production generically, not to the Saudis, particularly,’ Biden said.