DALLAS — Ah, summer travel season.
Flights to beach destinations. Time with your family. Fun in the sun.
And a figurative meltdown in the mentions of airline companies on Twitter.
Thursday was apparently one of those days, as cancellations racked up across the country.
As of noon, there had been 802 flights canceled within, into or out of the United States, to go along with 2,931 delays, according to Flight Aware.
International cancellations brought the total global cancellation count to 2,477.
The biggest problem area appeared to be New York and New Jersey – 19% of flights at Newark Liberty International Airport were cancelled, and 17% were cancelled at New York's LaGuardia Airport.
Locally, there were 146 delays at Dallas-Fort Worth International and 20 cancellations, making up only about 1% of flights.
Love Field had 26 delays but no cancellations.
But it was one of our local airlines, Fort Worth-based American Air, that seemed to be dealing with the complaints from grumpy travelers.
A glance at American's mentions saw a steady stream of complaints over everything from lost luggage to canceled flights to re-bookings.
American's main account was busy responding to most of the angry tweets.
WFAA has reached out to American this week over potential staffing issues and delays, but the airline has not responded.
While some airlines say weather problems in the northeast are a contributing factor, the pilots union that represents American Airlines crews says it is a continuing problem with staffing coming out of the pandemic.
“Yeah, it’s déjà vu all over again,” said the Allied Pilots Association’s Dennis Trajer, quoting the late Yogi Berra. “We see the storm on the horizon. They drive right to it. We get the same results. That’s a metaphor. The reality is today the sky is clear and American Airlines is not serving its passengers.”
Airlines have had difficulty getting staffing back up to acceptable post-pandemic levels, a problem widely reported over the last year or more. Pilot and crew unions have repeatedly complained they don’t have enough staff to follow through on the flights the airlines have booked.
As of 4:30 Thursday, according to the Flight Aware Misery Map, American Airlines had canceled 212 flights and delayed another 864.
“It’s very frustrating,” added Trajer. “It gets to the point where it’s enraging. Our passengers paid their hard-earned money. We’re out there with them. When they get cancelled, we don’t get home either. They don’t have enough pilots, they haven’t trained enough pilots,” he said of American Airlines and its partners. “They are literally canceling flights because they don’t have their act together. You sold tickets that you weren’t ready to close on the day of service, which is today. And we do the closing."
Republic Airlines, which operates American Eagle, United Express, and Delta Connect, had canceled more than 25% of its flights and delayed an even slightly higher percentage by late afternoon.
JetBlue also had a 4% cancellation rate, and United and British Airways were 3%.
It wasn't clear what was causing the delays; the East Coast had some storms earlier Thursday, but the severe weather didn't appear to be widespread.
In contrast, Southwest Airlines was reporting 52 flights, or 1%, canceled with 759 flights, or 19% of its total, delayed.
Southwest hasn't been without the drama this week, though.
On Wednesday, the company's tongue-in-cheek Twitter jab at competitor American Airlines resulted in the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association firing back at their own employer.
Southwest had tweeted an article reporting that American Airlines would be bringing back change fees for international flights. In the tweet, Southwest Airlines said "Not our cup of tea, but you do you @americanair."
For context, Southwest Airlines has historically never had change fees. Other major U.S. airlines eliminated change fees when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Southwest Airlines Pilots Association then decided to "enter themselves into the chat" as the kids would say nowadays.
"Neither is selling more than 4,000 flights a day in June when you were only staffed for 3,800. But you do you @southwestair," the pilots association tweeted.
WFAA spoke with a Southwest Airlines spokesperson over the phone, who said the average flights sold per day in June was 3,800, not the 4,000 flights referenced in the SAPA tweet.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg did hold a virtual meeting with CEO’s of major airlines today, asking for solutions as we head into the July 4th holiday and the busier summer travel season.