Skip to content

Thousands of flights delayed as biggest crowds in years hit airports

July 02, 2022
8 min read
orlando airport tsa packed 4th of july 2022
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

With U.S. transit officials keeping a close eye on airline performance this Fourth of July weekend, Mother Nature did not help operations. So far this weekend flight cancellations have not quite reached the levels we've seen in recent weeks, but five of the largest domestic carriers saw more than 4,000 flights delayed Friday, on a day that the TSA shattered the record for passenger traffic during the pandemic.

Airlines had thousands more flights delayed Saturday, according to data from FlightAware. That's after Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had warned more disruptions were likely amid bad weather in parts of the country, including along the East Coast.

The disruptions started early in the holiday weekend. In the midst of bad weather in several key cities Friday afternoon, the FAA's website at one point showed ground stops in place – meaning no planes could take off or land – at all three major New York airports, all three major Washington, D.C., airports, along with Atlanta (ATL), Charlotte (CLT), Orlando (MCO), Philadelphia (PHL) and Chicago-O’Hare (ORD).

New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA) got hit the hardest on Friday with nearly 45% of its departing flights experiencing some delay.

Want your TPG news delivered straight to your inbox each morning? Sign up for our daily newsletter.

These disruptions impacted the start of what’s shaping up to be the busiest holiday travel weekend for Americans in over two years. The TSA reported its agents screened 2,490,490 passengers Friday – tens of thousands above the record set on Sunday and the third time that pandemic-era record has been broken in a week.

Related: Why is my flight canceled because of ‘weather’ when it’s clear outside?

Friday’s weather threatened to further unravel challenged airline operations, with some carriers having days in recent weeks in which they canceled 100-200 flights. Delta Air Lines made a pre-emptive move this week by offering travel waivers for the holiday weekend, allowing those with reservations to change their flights cost-free.

Travelers wait at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) on July 1, 2022, amid flight delays and cancellations. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)

Related: I got caught in a recent travel mess. Here’s how I avoided waiting on hold to rebook

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Meanwhile, as of Saturday evening, American Airlines led the way with 96 cancellations – around 3% of its operations. Delta had canceled 68 flights on Saturday and Republic (a regional carrier operating flights for American and United) canceled about 8% of its schedule.

The delays mounted Saturday, too, with more than 2,400 delays Saturday among American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United by early evening.

These latest hurdles come as airlines are under scrutiny after challenges over the last couple of months – heightened as travel demand has surged close to pre-pandemic levels in recent weeks – all while airlines navigate staffing shortages and what airline industry officials say are air traffic control challenges stemming from the FAA.

Related: Here’s what to do if your flight is delayed or canceled

“We’re watching closely to see how airlines are meeting their responsibilities to get passengers where they need to go this weekend,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a tweet Friday, elaborating on those expectations in an interview this week with NBC News, where he mentioned the need for airlines to be more resilient in the face of weather disruptions.

If your itinerary is disrupted this weekend, TPG Managing Editor for News Clint Henderson recommends a multi-faceted approach to getting your trip back on track.

“Consumers have to be their own best advocate,” Henderson said in an interview Friday with CNN, suggesting flyers should try to be among the first to re-book their flight before seats fill up.

“You should have the airline’s app downloaded on your phone, so if things go sideways you can potentially re-book yourself. But at the same time you’re doing that, get in the customer service line and also ping them on social media.”

Read more: Even more reasons to download your airline’s app: summer delays and cancellations

Travelers inside Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, US, on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Photo by Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

What about a refund?

While a weather disruption may mean the airline won't pay for your hotel if you get stuck somewhere, federal transportation regulations do entitle you to a refund when your flight gets canceled if you choose not to re-book. Buttigieg took to social media Saturday to remind passengers that under federal transportation rules, flyers are entitled to get their money back when an airline cancels their flight -- regardless of the reason -- if they choose not to travel.

Department of Transportation (DOT) rules also specify that customers are entitled to a refund if the airline makes a “significant schedule change and/or significantly delays a flight” and the passenger chooses not to travel. However, the department has not specified what constitutes a “significant delay” and notes that the particular circumstances can determine whether the customer is refund-entitled, with DOT handling these situations on a case-by-case basis.

Buttigieg pointed out that while customers are always entitled to a refund when their flight is canceled, airlines will sometimes offer miles as an alternative. He encouraged travelers to research the value of airline miles. TPG regularly updates our points and miles valuations, which show you how many cents a mile is worth in a particular airline's loyalty program. For instance, TPG values Delta Air Lines SkyMiles at 1.41 cents per mile. If the airline were to offer you 5,000 miles as compensation for a canceled flight, that'd be worth around $70. Using this tool could help you determine whether you're better off taking a cash or miles offer from the airline.

Driving has its downsides

Even with a record number of passengers in the air, most holiday travelers are on the road. While drivers won't have to contend with TSA checkpoints, baggage fees or cancellations, they do face the continued crush of high gas prices.

As of Saturday, AAA shows the national average for a gallon of gas is $4.82, down about 20 cents from a peak of $5.01 in mid-June. California drivers are paying an average of $6.25 per gallon, with $4.90 the current average in New York. This can make your trip expensive, but there are some nice points earning opportunities that could help offset the cost if you pay with the right credit card.

For instance, a driver getting an average of 25 miles per gallon on a 485-mile road trip from New York City to Bar Harbor, Maine, this weekend would pay approximately $190 round trip. The Citi Premier® Card earns you 3 points per dollar spent on gas stations and so does the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card (for the first $6,000 annually, combined with groceries and dining spending) so you could earn 570 points if you have one of those cards.in your wallet. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card gets you 6 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent on gas, translating to 1,140 points for your gas spending.

Related: The 4 best cards for fueling up may surprise you

An arrivals board at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, US, on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Photo by Bing Guan/Bloomberg

Bottom line

In recent weeks we’ve seen bad weather at the beginning of the weekend snowball into a flurry of cancellations over the ensuing days. Certainly, disruptions at a majority of major east coast airports Friday did not get things off on the right footing this holiday weekend.

With hopes of things running more smoothly through the rest of the weekend – but more stormy weather forecasted in some parts of the country – it’s a good idea to be prepared as you head to the airport with your airline app downloaded and an understanding that things might not go entirely according to plan.

Featured image by SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more