CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — One of the busiest travel weeks of the year has turned into one of the most stressful as airlines across the country cancel thousands of flights.
According to the flight-tracking website Flight Aware, between Sunday and Monday, more than 2,000 flights were canceled nationwide and more than 8,000 were delayed as of late Monday afternoon.
Officials with Gerald R. Ford International Airport near Grand Rapids told News 8 that most of the affected flights are either departing from or arriving to airports in Florida, citing severe weather across the country over the weekend as the main problem.
One traveler arrived at Ford Airport Monday afternoon only to find out he wouldn’t be boarding for several more hours.
“I was about to leave for Punta Gorda, Florida, and my flight got delayed as I got here so now I have to wait a few more hours to leave,” Max Ralston said. “I’m sure a lot of people are frustrated about this. I’m more of an easygoing person so I’m fine with it but I’m sure people have other things they’ve got to be doing in the states that they’re going and I’m sure they’re pretty upset about it.”
Gabe Nulsen, who lives in Grand Rapids, was supposed to fly home from Miami over the weekend after spending six days on a cruise for a bachelor party. He’s still in Florida.
“We were supposed to leave a couple days ago on Saturday. One of my friends made it out. The other three had a flight back to Chicago that got canceled on Saturday after it was delayed for like five hours out of Miami. So theirs was Saturday. Mine was Sunday morning, like 5 (o’clock) in the morning through Delta and I woke up to get ready for that one on Sunday morning around 3:30 and it had just been canceled.”
Nulsen said the airline didn’t give him a reason for the cancellation and when he tried to get through to someone via the help center, there was a four-and-a-half-hour wait.
“I was like two hours in and they just kind of hung up on me,” he said. “So now we’re all kind of stuck in Miami at like an Airbnb right now until Tuesday.”
To make matters worse, he was supposed to start a new job this week.
“I had to email them that that’s not going to be able to happen anymore because there’s nothing I can do about it,” he said. “So it’s kind of frustrating for me.”
He considered driving back but that wasn’t really an option.
“Even if I were to try to rent a car and drive 1,300 miles back up, I mean, it might as well be the same thing as getting back here on Tuesday anyway. And from what I’ve heard, the car rental places are all completely sold out,” he said.
Erica Mesa, who was vacationing in Jamaica, was also left scrambling Sunday after her flight home was canceled.
“We received an email around like 5:40 in the morning but we did not see it until maybe around 9 (o’clock) and it just said canceled and there was no reason,” she said.
The airline gave her a few options to rebook but when she went online to try to get a new flight, there was nothing available.
“Even at the airport there was no agents at all that we could speak to for our airline and that was super frustrating,” she said.
Mesa ended up having to pay out of pocket for another flight in addition to paying for an extra night at a hotel. She was able to get a flight home Monday morning but had to miss a day of work.
If you are planning to travel this week, a spokesperson at Ford Airport said you should check your airline’s website directly for updates on your flight. In addition, if you can change your flight through the airline’s website or app, that might be a better option, as in some cases it could take hours to get through to an employee.