BALTIMORE — With nearly half of the country fully vaccinated, air travel is on the rebound. But as demand continues to rise, some airlines are struggling to keep up.
On Monday, American Airlines said it canceled nearly 400 flights party due to weather and pilot shortages.
Hundreds of other flights are also expected to be canceled through June as well as one percent or roughly 72 of its daily flights next month.
The changes are leading to delayed fights and long lines at airports across the country with frustrated customers who in some cases got little to no warning.
“It is very frustrating especially when it’s last minute," said Nailah Queen, who is the owner of Royalty Escapes—a travel agency based in Baltimore. "And people have been anticipating staying their whole vacation or looking forward to spending time with family and friends and then there’s been a sudden change.”
Queen said her company has fielded many calls from her clients about the issue.
"It’s extra work on us as an agency owner. My agents as well checking constantly or getting that phone call that 'hey I just received this email' and you’re trying to fix it for the client.”
Queen said the airline is offering customers options such as a travel credit or a different flight entirely, but those choices may not work for some passengers, leaving many of them with another option that could be costly.
“Or go with a different airline. In that case, if you don’t have a refundable ticket, you’re coming out of pocket.”
She said to avoid some of these problems make sure you check your flight before you even get to the airport.
Queen also said it’s even more important to always get travel insurance to at the very least get your money back.
“But when you don’t have anything protect to yourself when you’re traveling, you’re kind of stuck. You’re one of those people stuck at the airport just waiting.“
Her advice is to stay calm and patient when you're calling to weigh your options as it's possible it could take hours before you talk to anyone on the phone.
American Airlines sent the following statement:
“The first few weeks of June have brought unprecedented weather to our largest hubs, heavily impacting our operation and causing delays, canceled flights and disruptions to crew member schedules and our customers’ plans. That, combined with the labor shortages some of our vendors are contending with and the incredibly quick ramp up of customer demand, has led us to build in additional resilience and certainty to our operation by adjusting a fraction of our scheduled flying through mid-July. We made targeted changes with the goal of impacting the fewest number of customers by adjusting flights in markets where we have multiple options for re-accommodation.
“Our focus this summer — and always — is on delivering for our customers no matter the circumstance. We never want to disappoint, and feel these schedule adjustments will help ensure we can take good care of our customers and team members and minimize surprises at the airport.”