More than 1,300 US flights canceled as thunderstorms close in on the East Coast

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It’s been another rough day for America’s airline passengers, to put it mildly. 

As of 5:50 p.m. Eastern on Friday, more than 1,300 flights had been canceled in the U.S., with over 5,600 more delayed, according to FlightAware. Some of Friday’s issues could be a result of aircraft not being in a position to fly their first flights of the morning after cancelations Thursday. 

American Airlines canceled more than 240 of its flights – about 7% of its schedule – not including flights operated by its regional affiliates.  

Republic Airlines, a regional carrier that operates under the American Eagle, Delta Connection, and United Express brands, in addition to operating some of its own flights, also had more than 240 cancellations or 24% of its schedule for Friday.

The Federal Aviation Administration implemented delay programs at airports from Boston to Atlanta by Friday evening and warned that delays were likely to build into the night and could extend into Florida as well. Airports in the West are also being affected by the weather.

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Summer squeeze for aviation network

Across the board, it’s been a frustrating summer for passengers as airlines trim schedules and airports but in the U.S. and abroad struggle to cope with surging demand for travel.

Earlier in the pandemic, airlines downsized as people stayed home. But with restrictions lifted, folks this summer are traveling like it’s 2019 again, and carriers say they don’t have enough people on their rosters to fly the schedules they planned. 

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That’s led to many airlines – American, United, Delta, and JetBlue among them – to announce cuts and even end service to some smaller cities.

Experts say it could take as much as a year for things to normalize.

What you’re entitled to if your flight is canceled

If your flight is canceled and you choose not to travel on a new itinerary, the Department of Transportation requires your airline to give you a refund, even if you purchased a nonrefundable ticket. 

In the event of a delay, the rules are a little fuzzier. The DOT says that passengers are entitled to compensation if a “significant” delay occurs, but the department has not yet defined what qualifies as significant.

Airline compensation: What you’re entitled to if your flight is canceled or delayed

That ultimately means, for now, it’s up to individual airlines to decide how and when to compensate passengers whose flights are delayed.

The DOT announced earlier this week that they are planning to clarify those rules and make them more consumer-friendly. On Wednesday, the agency opened a portal for public comments on updates to their cancellation and delay compensation regulations. 

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