Airlines prepare for busy 4th of July weekend

Busy travel weekend for Metro Atlanta
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 9:05 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - The Fourth of July holiday weekend is coming up and millions of Americans are planning to go wheels up or hit the road in the next few days, according to AAA.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is expected to be the busiest airport in the country and the world, according to airport officials.

“When we pulled up I was like, ‘oh my goodness! There’s too many people here,” said Kayla Chambers, who’s flying to Mexico.

“It’s kind of packed this time of morning. To be so early,” said Pia Smith, who’s heading to Anaheim, California for a dance competition.

Long lines and packed planes await the estimated 12.9 million Americans planning to fly this weekend.

That number is from travel company Hopper, which reports an average of 2.6 million people flying per day from July 1-4. Around 1.5 million of those flyers will be Georgians, according to AAA.

“We planned on coming three hours early so that we all can get checked in on time and get through security,” said Tarasa Whitehead, who’s flying to Los Angeles.

And while millions of Americans prepare for take-off, they face some bumpy flight plans. This summer has been plagued with delays and cancellations, with airlines crediting shortages of pilots, flight attendants, and other important employees after layoffs and resignations during the pandemic.

“It makes me a little nervous because I’m nervous that one of my flights might get canceled or delayed,” said Smith.

United Airlines went ahead and cut flights this weekend: 50 departures from Newark. Jet Blue also did flight reductions this summer, cutting 10% of their scheduled take-offs. Southwest Airlines has cut about 20,000 flights between June and Labor Day. As for Delta, they’re encouraging travelers with tickets for this weekend to change their flights for free. Customers won’t be charged a change fee and won’t have to pay the difference in flight costs. They just have to rebook before July 8.

“As someone who is very busy, I think having a set schedule is really important,” said Chambers.

“If it’s a family vacation, I think it’s something I’d think about twice,” said Whitehead.

All of the delays and cancellations that have been going on this summer even have airline employees fed up. Delta pilots are set to picket Thursday at the Georgia International Convention Center from 10 a.m. until noon.