Storms ground thousands of US travelers as airlines cancel flights

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Tens of thousands of flyers had their travel plans turned upside down Friday after airlines canceled about 1,400 U.S. flights as thunderstorms hit the East Coast.

Another 6,300 flights had been delayed by early evening, causing more chaos in those weekend travel plans, according to tracking service FlightAware.

It was the second day in a row of major disruptions and the worst day for cancellations since mid-June.

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The three major airports in the New York City area and Reagan National Airport outside of Washington, DC, recorded the most cancellations.

American Airlines canceled about 250 flights, or 7% of the schedule. Republic Airways, which operates smaller aircraft for American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express, canceled a similar number, about 25% of its flights.

Thunderstorms stopped or delayed early evening flights in New York, Boston, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Denver, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

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About 1,200 U.S. flights were canceled on Thursday, 4.6% of all scheduled flights.

Travelers will be hit by widespread cancellations and delays this summer. Travel recovered faster than expected – to about 88% of pre-pandemic levels in July – and airlines were unable to expand workforces fast enough. They have cut schedules in an effort to make the remaining flights more reliable.

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Airlines flying into the US had a bad June, canceling more than 21,000 flights or 2.7%, up from 1.8% in June 2019, before airlines forced employees to retire during the pandemic. However, airlines outperformed in July, canceling about 14,000 flights, or 1.8%.

The delays were more persistent – more than 23% in both June and July.

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