Travel experts warn flight cancellations could continue as summer travel heats up

Sea-Tac International Airport felt the effects Saturday, with 20 cancellations and more than 154 delays.

SEATAC, Wash. – Travelers have dealt with major headaches at the airport for three days as thousands of flights across the country are delayed and hundreds are canceled.

This comes as the official start to summer is just days away and travel is expected to only increase.

Sea-Tac International Airport felt the effects Saturday, with 20 cancellations and more than 154 delays.

Travel experts warn that this could be just the beginning.

“It’s been pretty busy, baggage claim was not so bad. It’s been quiet down here, ”said Brandon McEntire, who was departing from Sea-Tac.

For some, traveling out of and into the airport has been smooth, like for Shelley Welch’s family, which was arriving from Minnesota.

“It has not happened to us yet so thankfully. I know there has been a lot of cancellations and a lot of frustrated people but so far so good, ”said Welch.

For others traveling out of Sea-Tac on Friday, they were met with long lines full of travelers.

Experts said you could be seeing more of that this summer as the pandemic, staffing shortages, and the demand to travel make for the perfect storm.

“You go to any airline and you can see super long lines. They’re doing their best, but unfortunately because of the number of people traveling, it’s hard for them to keep up with it, ”said Terry Yuemura, a travel consultant with Hawaii General Store and HGS Travel.

Yuemura’s main destination is Hawaii, but he also gets clients all over the globe. He said hotel prices in Hawaii have doubled, but despite that, the planes are packed.

“I work at the airport and a lot of them are coming up saying we are so excited it’s been two or three years since we’ve been able to travel and we’re finally able to get up and go,” said Yuemura.

According to FlightAware, which tracks flights in real time, there were more than 5,000 delays and more than 800 cancellations across both domestic and international travel Saturday afternoon.

That’s on top of the thousands of travelers faced Thursday and Friday as storms gripped the Southeast and Northeast, impacting Charlotte’s Douglas International Airport and the New York-New Jersey area.

“I’ve had some people in the news that have heard about the cancellations and have canceled their flight to Hawaii. They just do not want to take the risk, ”said Yuemura.

Yuemura rarely sees flights canceled to Hawaii, but he does see the staffing shortage at Sea-Tac first-hand, and is asking the public for patience.

“They’re doing the best they can in their abilities, so being nice to them is all I can say,” Yuemura said.

Yuemura said if an airline cancels a flight due to weather, its an “Act of God” and the airline does not have a responsibility when it comes to compensation, but airlines should try to re-accommodate you.

As summer travel is heating up, he suggests getting travel insurance.

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