Memphis airport dodges massive flight delay/cancellation bullet, prepares for 4th of July weekend

Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 8:32 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Juneteenth and Father’s Day made for a busy travel weekend across the country.

It’s weekends like this last one that is exciting, Memphis International Airport after finishing a May travel month with 233,000 flyers.

“That only represents a 5% decline, compared to 2019,” said Glen Thomas with MEM. “Basically, we’re at where we were pre-pandemic, which was a huge year for the aviation industry.”

Unfortunately, the high-traffic weekend brought a high number of delays and cancellations across the country.

Flight data from the site Flight Aware showed there have been 35,028 flight delays between Sunday and Monday, with another 4,900 cancellations, as of Monday evening.

The top airlines exhibiting the most cancellations and delays Monday were Spirit, Delta, and American.

Memphis only saw a small part of those numbers, totaling 51 delays and cancellations between Sunday and Monday.

“You know, it’s well-known that some of the airlines are dealing with some staffing issues, and that’s affecting the summer schedule,” Thomas said. “One of the things we’re telling passengers is to check with your airline before you travel. Always make sure that you know the latest information from your airlines about the schedule and any changes that could be happening.”

Other reasons airlines sites are weather-related issues and the rising cost of fuel.

Some MEM travelers were feeling the stress of the changes.

One family we caught but weren’t able to interview said their 4:30 p.m. departure got bumped up to 3:40 p.m. at the last minute.

Others like Eddie Plunkett, who was traveling for work, said he was being offered different flight options from American Airlines.

“(American Airlines) texted me, asking me to change my flight, offering me money in exchange to go on a later flight,” Plunkett said. “That doesn’t normally happen.”

Plunkett said he turned down the offer, saying he wanted to get home in time this weekend to celebrate Father’s Day with his family.

“(American) never really explained it. I think they’re just trying to figure out which aircraft to use and how many people will fit,” he said.

With the busy 4th of July weekend on the horizon, Thomas and MEM don’t have estimates on the number of travelers yet but are preparing to ensure everything on their part is square for when the weekend comes.

“We just want to make sure that every possible facet is properly staffed and that we are prepared to make sure it’s a seamless transition for the passengers,” Thomas said.

Other tips from MEM include: getting to the airport early, two hours at least to find parking and get checked in, knowing what you can and cannot bring into the airport and onto the plane, and constantly monitoring your airline’s flight information for delays and possible cancellations.

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