NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Frustrated flyers say they’re being left stranded for hours at airports across the country.
On Sunday, a pandemic-era record of 2.23 million travelers passed through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints.
On Monday, several airlines told CBS2’s Cory James they are making efforts to meet the increased demand.
“We were in Atlanta’s airport for 12 hours,” Brian Doyle said.
“No rhyme no reason. Your flight is cancelled,” Sherrina Navani said.
“They had notified us that we had a crew, we had … the plane was there, but we had no pilots,” said Doyle, who had his Delta flight canceled.
“One of the terminal agents said we’re 30% less on employment due to the pandemic and they have not hired anyone back,” Navani said of JetBlue.
Navani said after a 10-hour wait at the airport in San Francisco, her family rented a car and drove back to a relative’s home.
However, Doyle said he and his partner slept on a blanket with their pet just feet away on a chair because hotels near the Atlanta airport were all booked.
“We kind of put one on the ground and just slept on the dirty airport floor, which was not ideal and kind of frustrating,” Doyle said.
Travel expert Francesca Page said a spike in demand is creating this problem for some airlines, despite billions of dollars being given to airlines by the government for support during the pandemic.
“I’m not surprised. Numerous carriers furloughed employees during lapses in that federal aid and to further cut costs airlines offered buyouts and early retirement packages,” Page said.
Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington wrote a letter to airlines in an attempt to figure out why “workforce shortages have caused flight cancellations and generated delays for passengers,” after federal aid was dispersed to help.
Delta responded by saying, in part, the company is “now in active recovery” and “taking all the right steps through increased staffing” to “service this demand.”
JetBlue stated, “a number of people did leave the industry during the pandemic,” but added the airline is “working to hire and train 2,500 new crew members this year.”
While the airlines acknowledged having staffing issues, they said the delays both passengers CBS2 spoke with faced were caused by severe weather over the weekend.
Editor’s note: This story was first published on Monday, July 19.