More than 300 flights canceled, 3K flights delayed at start of holiday weekend

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More than 300 flights have been canceled nationwide as of early Friday afternoon as the U.S. enters one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

An additional 3,000 flights have been delayed on Friday as airlines continue to struggle to have enough staffing to meet demand, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware. Thousands of cancellations and delays are expected throughout the Fourth of July weekend, with demand for air travel currently at its highest level since before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Almost 500 flights were canceled and more than 5,000 flights were delayed on Thursday, according to FlightAware.

A pilot shortage has forced airlines to cancel and delay flights recently, and millions of seats have been made unavailable as a result. Airlines have placed blame on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for being short-staffed and lacking a staffing plan for the summer when demand for travel increases.

The FAA has responded that the stimulus payments the airlines received as part of COVID-19 relief packages should have taken care of the staffing shortages ahead of the public returning to normal activities.

Delta Air Lines is waiving its rebooking fee for flights from Friday to Monday, allowing customers to rebook flights before or after the peak travel days.

A group of senators wrote letters to 10 domestic airlines on Wednesday to urge them to provide statistics on their delays and cancellations.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg met with top airline heads last month to discuss how to address the situation.

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