United Airlines is struggling to overcome flight disruptions

United Airlines on Friday struggled to recover from a week of flight delays and cancellations, testing the resilience of its operations as people head to airports ahead of the busy July 4 holiday.

The airline’s problems started last weekend in the New York area. At the time, United blamed the disruption on the storm and staffing shortages at federal air traffic control facilities. Other airlines at the time also suffered flight delays and cancellations, but by Wednesday United’s problems had come to the fore as they spread across its operations across the country.

There was some improvement in the situation on Thursday. After canceling nearly a quarter of its flights on Tuesday and Wednesday, United canceled about 18 percent of its schedule, according to flight tracking firm FlightAware. Still, the number of flights canceled by United on Thursday, at more than 520, far exceeds those canceled by other carriers. SkyWest Airlines, which operates flights for United and several other major airlines, was a close second with more than 100 flights cancelled.

The airline said it is closely monitoring the weather at its two hubs, Denver and Chicago, and expects fewer last-minute cancellations. As of mid-morning Friday, United had canceled more than 200 flights, or 7 percent of its schedule for the day, according to FlightAware. Another 280 flights were delayed.

“After an overnight effort to repair schedules and match separated crew with aircraft, we continue to see meaningful improvements today,” United said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “As improvements progress, delays and cancellations will continue to decline as we anticipate a very busy holiday weekend.”

Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation, Twitter targets the airline Friday morning, given that other carriers had recovered from bad weather earlier in the week.

The disruption comes during one of the busiest times for air travel in years. The Transportation Security Administration reported screening more than 2.7 million people at airport checkpoints on Thursday, one of its busiest days since 2019. Only four other days have been busier since the pandemic began, all of them in recent weeks. AAA, Travel Club, said it is expected About 4.2 million people will fly this weekend, up 6.6 percent from 2019.

Throughout the week, United passengers have reported sleeping in airports and waiting in line for hours to rebook flights. Some passengers said they had to wait for days to get their checked bags back.

The disruptions have also left pilots and flight attendants frustrated. After flights were cancelled, many had to wait for hours to get reassignments. According to social media posts, some flight attendants even slept at airports. The complaints from airline employees are similar to complaints from flight attendants and pilots at Southwest Airlines, when the company suffered a huge operational slowdown around Christmas.

Ken Diaz, president of the United chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents more than 25,000 United flight attendants, said, “Last weekend’s weather affected everyone, but United is the only airline still to recover.” Struggling and we know why.” in a statement on Thursday. “United management’s failure to properly staff crew schedulers, flight attendant support teams and others has exacerbated these operational issues and caused passengers and flight attendants to wait for hours for answers.”

Mr Diaz said United had “lost” crew for several days due to a fault in its systems. He also said the union warned management last year about problems that could contribute to more disruptions, but the airline plans to “move forward” with an ambitious flight schedule this summer. Mr Diaz said United used some of the union’s recommendations to deal with the current disruption, including changing its schedule and agreeing to pay flight attendants three times their normal pay to take trips until July 6 .

Pilots have also expressed similar disappointment.

Captain Garth Thompson, president of the United chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association union, which represents the airline’s more than 15,000, said, “It is United Airlines management that is failing our loyal customers by ignoring warning signs and failing to properly plan.” doing.” the pilots said in a statement.

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