WASHINGTON — Mounting summer delays and a record number of travelers have made what is usually a terrible busy airline travel season feel even worse.
According to flight-tracking website FlightAware, flight cancellations are down about 14% this summer compared to last year, but delays are mounting and so are frustrations.
“It was cancelled,” a flier told CBS News of their flight. “We don’t know why, and they won’t fly us out for two days.”
This week, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill aimed at regulating airlines’ obligations to their customers at a time of increasing disruption and dysfunction in the industry.
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“We understand that airlines cannot control the weather, but they still have to meet certain basic standards for looking after their customers,” Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg told Portal.
Buttigieg is pursuing new rules that would oblige companies to compensate passengers for delays or cancellations caused by the airline.
“We found that even the threat of regulation can motivate airlines to do the right thing,” Buttigieg said.
However, the airlines also blame the Federal Aviation Administration, citing a shortage of staff and air traffic controllers.
The FAA claims that severe weather and flight volume were the biggest causes of flight delays in 2023. The agency says it is working to hire 1,800 more air traffic controllers over the next year. It also means that it is start new online videos that explain to passengers in real time what is happening in the sky.
But flight disruptions weren’t the only challenge for travelers.
“We went directly to the State Department online and submitted our previous passports, which had only expired about a year ago,” passport applicant Pam Rogers said.
The massive backlog of passport applications is leaving prospective international passengers waiting up to 13 weeks for documents, resulting in missed trips, non-refundable fees and a flood of voters asking members of Congress for help.
“There are few times in your life when you actually need your government. This is one of those moments,” Rogers said.
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