Compared to last year, U.S. airlines performed better this July 4 weekend: Travel Weekly

U.S. airlines managed to avoid the worst fears of travelers over the July 4 weekend, with cancellation rates lower than the July 4 weekend last year and in 2019.

According to flight tracker FlightAware, U.S-based carriers canceled 1,435 flights from Friday through Monday, amounting to 1.5% of scheduled flights. In addition, 19.7% of flights were delayed. 

By comparison, U.S. airlines canceled 1.7% of flights during the four days of last year’s July 4 holiday weekend and 2.1% of flights during the same weekend in 2019. Carriers delayed 23.1% and 18.2% of flights, respectively, during those 2021 and 2019 holiday periods. 

On Tuesday, as many travelers headed home from the holiday, cancellation levels were also modest. Shortly before noon on the East Coast, 272 flights to, from or within the U.S. had been canceled, according to FlightAware. 

The better-than-expected holiday weekend performance by U.S. airlines came as some carriers implemented schedule cuts. Delta took the unusual step of offering customers the chance to adjust itineraries for free, even when the newly booked flights cost more than the earlier booking. 

Still, the weekend didn’t come without glitches. One person who did experience a canceled flight was DOT secretary Pete Buttigieg, who tweeted about the incident and reminded flyers that they are entitled to a refund for cancellations. 

Airlines offer miles as compensation for some travel issues, and you can often negotiate on this. That’s between you and the airline.

But you are entitled to cash refunds for canceled flights – that’s a requirement that we will continue to enforce.

Buttigieg had been speaking out about airline disruptions well before that cancellation. In mid-June, he told the Associated Press that the DOT could consider taking enforcement action against airlines that don’t meet required standards of customer service should widespread problems occur during the July 4 weekend.

Some carriers fared worse than others over the holiday period. Delta canceled 3% of its mainline flights, while Delta’s regional subsidiary Endeavor canceled 5% of flights, according to FlightAware. 

Allegiant canceled 4% of flights. United and American canceled 2% of their mainline flights. 

Southwest canceled just 0.3% of flights. Alaska, Frontier and Spirit were also strong performers. 

FlightAware data also shows the performance of U.S. airlines for the month of June. The cancellation rate for the month was 2.7%, compared to 1.4% last June and 1.9% in June 2019.

Among the 10 largest U.S. carriers, American performed the worst, canceling 5% of mainline flights in June with a delayed-arrival rate of 28%. 

Delta canceled 3% of mainline flights, while its Endeavor regional subsidiary had a 7% cancellation rate. 

Delta’s mainline cancellation rate was up 14-fold for the first month of the summer travel season compared to 2019, according to the Aerology blog, which covers airline operations.

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