Passengers through Maine’s airports fared comparatively well over a four-day July 4 holiday weekend that saw thousands of flights canceled at airports nationwide.
More than 2 million passengers passed through U.S. airport checkpoints each day over the July 4 weekend, approaching pre-pandemic levels, Transportation Security Administration data showed. Frustrated passengers experienced more than 2,200 flight cancellations and 25,000 delays, according to FlightAware, as airlines struggled with staff shortages and route scheduling.
The Portland International Jetport had 13 cancellations out of the 412 flights scheduled over the four-day weekend, according to airport data. That 3.2 percent cancellation rate is close to its average cancellation rate between 2.5 percent and 3 percent at other times. It did not have flight delay information.
“We always recommend checking flight status with your airline before departing for the airport,” Zachary Sundquist, assistant airport director at the Jetport, said.
At Bangor International Airport, there have been some delays and cancellations in recent weeks related to bad weather, scheduling issues and staffing shortages, but spokesperson Aimee Thibodeau did not provide numbers. She recommended that passengers download their airline’s app to track their flight status.
“And make sure you have a Plan B,” she said.
Passengers encountering delays should coordinate with their airline, because most will automatically put you on the next available flight with seats available, Sundquist said. Some may not charge fees to change flights. Delta Airlines, which flies to and from the airports in Bangor and Portland, allowed free flight changes from July 1-4.
“The final reminder would be to pack your patience,” Sundquist said. “Anticipate that a flight disruption may occur.”
Disruptions are happening so frequently all over the world that a new analysis of Google Trends data by TradingPedia found a 100 percent increase in searches related to “flight canceled” in June 2022 compared with the previous month, a surge not seen since 2020, when the pandemic caused massive flight cancellations.
Crystal Riggs Thayer, a Kentucky middle school teacher who visited Maine in June, knows all too well that disruptions can still happen.
She and her companion arrived at the Portland airport to head home to Kentucky at 4:15 a.m. Their flight was delayed twice, with the rescheduled flight leaving them only 15 minutes to make a connection at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. That flight was then canceled because of bad weather in New York.
Delta automatically assigned the two of them new flights but not on the same plane. The airline switched their flight so they could be together for an afternoon flight to New York with an evening connection to Kentucky. That was canceled as well, and they were rerouted from Portland to Detroit to Kentucky the next day. That flight was also canceled.
They decided to take the bus from Portland to Boston, where they were able to get on a standby list for a direct flight to Kentucky. After other delays, including a computer glitch that would not allow them to board, the pilot came off the plane to tell the gate attendant there were empty seats on the plane. But ground staff would not approve letting them onto the plane.
They boarded a later flight and arrived in Kentucky at 11 p.m., some 43 hours after they first headed to the airport in Portland.
“Maine was beautiful…I’d like to visit again someday, but I won’t be flying there, I’ll drive up.” Thayer wrote in a Facebook post.