US carriers are bracing for a rough weekend as hundreds of flights were canceled and thousands delayed on Saturday alone. JetBlue, Spirit, and Alaska Airlines have seen the most issues with their schedules, battling chaos on the weather and staffing fronts.
As the number of people flying in the US reaches over 90% of pre-pandemic levels, airlines are struggling to cope with the pressures. Saturday saw JetBlue ax 191 flights, or 18% of its schedule, with Boston and JFK heavily affected, leading to thousands of passengers stuck at terminals. Those who did manage to fly saw delays of varying lengths, with a massive 46% of flights running late.
Low-cost Spirit Airlines wasn’t much behind, axing 14% of its flights (115) yesterday and delaying 38% of services. Data from FlightAware shows that Boston (6% of all flights canceled), Ft. Lauderdale (6%), and JFK (3%) were the worst hit on Saturday, with disruptions continuing into Sunday. Friday was even worse for passengers, with nearly 600 flights canceled in the US.
Low-cost Spirit has been hit with cancellations right before the hectic Easter travel weekend. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | SimpleFlying.
JetBlue and Spirit have already canceled 9% and 6% of Sunday flights, respectively, so keep an eye on your bookings before heading to the airport. No reasons for the delays have been announced, but they are likely due to a lack of available crews. High COVID cases among crews and more flights have been hurting all airlines since December.
Bad weather in parts of the country has also contributed to the delays, but only minimally since Delta, United, and American only saw a few dozen cancellations each.
Alaska Airlines’ April from hell continues to drag into this weekend, with the airline canceling 6% of flights on Saturday, 5% today (which might go up), and delaying nearly 20%. However, these are actually more positive numbers for the airline, which has been hit by a pilot shortage and industrial action over the last two weeks.
Last weekend, the airline was forced to cut 9% of its flights due to the shortages and saw its off-duty employees picketing key hubs. Pilots’ unions had long warned that schedules did not match the available number of crews, especially given that many were self-isolating due to COVID. However, change only this week, with the airline cutting 2% of flights preemptively.
Alaska Airlines’ troubles pre-date this weekend and could drag into the summer if they cannot find a fast solution. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Single Flying
For now, all eyes will be on how long the carrier takes to fix its issues and whether it can be ready for a major summer ahead.
As though stress levels weren’t running high enough in airline offices, a potential storm over Easter weekend next week could trigger another avalanche of cancelations. The top priority will now be to ensure that all US airlines have enough staff on standby in the next five days to not lose passengers again. But given the last four months, this will be an uphill battle.
What do you think about JetBlue, Spirit, and Alaska’s struggles? Let us know in the comments.
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