Perhaps I am speaking a bit prematurely, but it is already approaching late morning on the U.S. east coast and it is shaping up to be a largely drama-free Thanksgiving travel day. What a difference a year makes.
Thanksgiving Travel Meltdown Is Avoided
Last year, Delta Air Lines stranded thousands of passengers after cancelling hundreds of flights due a pilot training backlog. This year, Delta has not registered a single flight cancellation thus far on Thanksgiving Day and cancelled only four flights yesterday.
The larger concern was from American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, but both carriers also seem to be avoiding the holiday meltdowns many feared.
Yesterday, American Airlines cancelled 40 flights and delayed 432 flights. As of 10:30AM ET on Thanksgiving, it has cancelled 26 flights and delayed 82 flights. That’s not ideal, but hardly a meltdown.
Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines cancelled only two flights while delaying 444 flights yesterday, about 11% of its schedule. Thus far, it has not cancelled any flights today.
There was also fear that the Transportation Security Administration would be severely understaffed due to thousands of employees who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine being placed on leave. That also failed to materialize. While up to 40% of TSA staff were thought to be unvaccinated as the November vaccination deadline approached, by the November 22nd deadline the TSA reported 93% are in compliance (which means those employees have either been vaccinated or requested an exemption).
The weather is also largely cooperating today, with cold weather and gusty winds hitting parts of the midwest, but an otherwise storm-free outlook. The only potential rain in the forecast is showers in Seattle as well as a column of rain stretching from the Great Lakes to Texas.
After a number of meltdowns, good weather and preventive staffing have helped U.S. airlines run a much smoother operation this week. Fears of mass cancellations and snaking security lines have not materialized and Thanksgiving travel in 2021 is shaping up to be one of the smoothest on record.
image: National Weather Service