Thousands of flight cancellations halt senior trips for local high school students

Thousands of flights were canceled over the weekend that stymied spring travel plans for pandemic-weary Americans eager to explore.

FlightAware, a website that tracks flights, noted major disruptions at several Florida airports, including in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando, as well as Baltimore, New York and other airports around the country. JetBlue, Southwest, Alaska Airlines, Frontier, Spirit and American Airlines were most affected, according to FlightAware, with JetBlue and Spirit canceling one-third of Sunday’s scheduled flights.

“Severe weather in the Southeast and multiple air traffic control delay programs have created significant impacts on the industry,” a JetBlue spokesperson said in an email. “Today’s cancellations will help us reset our operation and safely move our crews and aircraft back in to position.”

Southwest Airlines also cited “weather and airspace congestion” Saturday in Florida, as well as a “technology issue.” It canceled about 1,000 flights over the weekend but said that as of 1 pm Eastern, it had no more cancellations on Sunday.

Seniors at West Deptford High School were among those impacted by the delays and cancellations. The school had a long planned trip to Disney World set up to celebrate its graduating seniors who have spent the last two years trying to navigate high school and a pandemic.

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“I woke up and we got the text that it’s been canceled 15 minutes before leaving my house,” Caila Tagwe told FOX 29.

The cancelations spilled over into Monday morning when more than 80 students at Gateway Regional High School had their spring trips dashed. Schools are trying their best to rebook students who had their fun stolen from them.

“Our kids are resilient they’ve been through a lot the last couple of years,” Principal Dr. Jeff Piero said. “They know that we’re committed to make this happen for them, I think of course they’re bummed, but I think they know we’re going to try to make sure this happens.”

Officials estimate that 4,000 flights were canceled or delayed this past weekend, with many airlines citing nasty weather. World Class Vacations General Manager Rob Brown said that weather snowballs into other issues that force airlines to nix flights.

“What happens sometimes begins with weather, it’s snowballs into crews running out of hours, flights get canceled at the last minute, and it’s a bad situation for everyone,” Brown said. “It becomes a rescheduling problem to reschedule the next day the hotel rooms are reserved it dominoes.”

The spate of cancellations arrived as air travel is rebounding from the pandemic, with strong demand for spring-break flights. People on social media complained about waiting on hold or in lines for hours to get their canceled flights rescheduled and being stranded for days.

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