May 24, 2024

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is proving a messy one for many airlines, with carriers canceling thousands of flights worldwide, including hundreds in the U.S. on Monday. 

On Monday, 1,546 flights had been canceled as of 5:02 p.m. Eastern time, according to flight tracking website FlightAware. That followed roughly 1,640 cancellations on Sunday, 1,500 on Saturday and 2,300 on Friday. Nearly 400 of Monday’s cancellations involved aircraft scheduled to fly to or from U.S. cities.

Delta Air Lines canceled the most flights among major U.S. airlines, scratching 133 flights on Monday, or 4% of its operations, according to FlightAware. The carrier was forced to cancel more than 400 flights on Saturday and Sunday. 

Saturday’s cancellations were due to bad weather and “air traffic control actions,” Atlanta-based Delta said in an email to The Associated Press, noting it’s trying to cancel flights at least 24 hours in advance of the Memorial Day weekend. Delta told CBS News that “around 90%” of its customers who had a cancelled flight Sunday were rebooked on a flight “later in the day.”

Delta announced on its website on Thursday that from July 1 to Aug. 7, it would reduce service by about 100 daily departures, primarily in parts of the U.S. and Latin America that Delta frequently serves.

“More than any time in our history, the various factors currently impacting our operation — weather and air traffic control, vendor staffing, increased COVID case rates contributing to higher-than-planned unscheduled absences in some work groups — are resulting in an operation that isn’t consistently up to the standards Delta has set for the industry in recent years,” said Delta’s Chief Customer Experience Officer Allison Ausband in a post.

Among other U.S. carriers, by Monday afternoon American Airlines had cancelled 121 flights, or 3% of its operations, according to FlightAware.

Flight Cancellations Memorial Day Weekend
Travelers queue up move through the north security checkpoint in the main terminal of Denver International Airport, Thursday, May 26, 2022, in Denver.

David Zalubowski / AP

Airlines and tourist destinations are anticipating monster crowds this summer as travel restrictions ease and pandemic fatigue overcomes lingering fear of contracting COVID-19 during travel. 

Many forecasters believe the number of travelers will match or even surpass levels in the good-old, pre-pandemic days. However, airlines have thousands fewer employees than they did in 2019, and that has at times contributed to widespread flight cancellations.

Airfares take off

People who are only now booking travel for the summer are experiencing the sticker shock.

Domestic airline fares for summer are averaging more than $400 for a round trip, 24% higher than this time in 2019, before the pandemic, and a robust 45% higher than a year ago, according to travel-data firm Hopper.

Travel Watch: Tips for navigating sky-high prices


Internationally, fares are also up from 2019, but only 10%. Prices to Europe are about 5% cheaper than before the pandemic — $868 for the average round trip, according to Hopper. Keyes said Europe is the best travel bargain out there. That is partly due to some travelers’ concerns about traveling to the region due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, which means Western Europe is a buyer’s market for the moment, according to CBS News’ Peter Greenberg. 

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