As flight delays and cancellations surge across the U.S., Delta Air Lines says it will allow customers to rebook trips reserved between July 1 and July 4 without charging fees or ticket price differences.
Delta officials said they’re offering the rebook feature because they expect a high volume of air travel this weekend “not seen since before the pandemic.”
More than 2,500 flights across the U.S. were canceled over the Memorial Day weekend, frustrating passengers during one of the busiest travel times of the year. Airline analysts say delays and cancellations are likely to persist, and could even get worse.
“Delta people are working around the clock to rebuild Delta’s operation while making it as resilient as possible to minimize the ripple effect of disruptions,” the company said on its website. “Even so, some operational challenges are expected this holiday weekend.”
The rebooked flight must be from the same origin city and to the same destination as the original reservation, Delta said Tuesday. The rebooked flight must also be taken on or before July 8.
Customers must rebook the flight online or through Delta’s mobile app. The rebook route is not the way airlines have traditionally accommodated travelers who experienced flight delays.
Voucher policies for extended delays vary
Airlines usually offer a free overnight hotel stay or a travel voucher for a future trip if the passenger’s flight has an extended delay. What constitutes as an extended delay and where the hotel stay will be differs widely from carrier to carrier. Passengers can ask an attendant at their departure gate about any possible vouchers or hotel stays.
More than 3.5 million Americans are expected to fly during the holiday weekend, according to estimates from AAA. It’s the lowest share of people scheduled to travel by air for the holiday since 2011, the auto club noted.
Delta and other major airlines have been plagued by thousands of flight cancellations this year, as they battle bad weather and a shortage of pilots, flight crew and other personnel. Carriers have also pointed at understaffing at the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA has admitted that it is understaffed, particularly at a key air traffic control center in Florida.
Delta has canceled more flights between June 16 and June 20 than it did all of last summer, according to CBS Evening News.
Airlines canceled more than 640 flights in the U.S. on Tuesday, according to FlightAware. There were more than 4,610 delays, the trip tracker said. By noon on Wednesday, more than 500 U.S. flights had been canceled.
Delta announced its rebook offer two days before its pilots are scheduled to picket in seven major cities, including New York and Detroit. Delta pilots are in the middle of new contract negotiations and are demanding a pay increase as well as changes in their schedules to reduce flight disruptions. Pilots are also asking for improvements in retirement benefits and job protections.
The largest pilots union, ALPA, approved a contract last week that would boost the pay of pilots at United Airlines by more than 14% over the next 18 months, potentially clearing the way for similar large wage increases throughout the industry.
Khristopher J. Brooks is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering business, consumer and financial stories that range from economic inequality and housing issues to bankruptcies and the business of sports.
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