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FAA Urges Kindness This Thanksgiving

The agency's Administrator asked the traveling public to pack their patience and kindness.

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A Delta Air Lines A319 holds short as an American Airlines A321 departs Los Angeles (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

The U.S. airline industry is bracing for a record-setting Thanksgiving holiday with over 50,000 flights scheduled for Wednesday, November 22 along with 2023’s busiest day slated for Sunday. Anticipating a surge in passengers, newly appointed FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker has appealed to travelers to exercise patience and understanding towards flight crews.

“Be nice to your flight crew. They’re there for your safety,” Whitaker urged, according to AvWeb.

To manage the anticipated congestion, particularly along East Coast routes, the FAA has implemented its Holiday Airspace Release program. This initiative involves the introduction of 169 new, faster routes along the eastern corridors, aimed at shortening flight times and reducing delays.

Addressing the issue of unruly passenger behavior, which has been a concern in recent years, Secretary Buttigieg acknowledged that reports have decreased significantly since the 500% spike observed from 2020 to 2021. However, he emphasized that the current levels remain substantially higher than pre-pandemic standards. He reminded travelers that unruly behavior on airplanes can result in fines of up to $37,000 per violation, along with potential federal charges.

Acknowledging the ongoing disruptions in airline travel performance following the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg attributed delays primarily to airline-related issues and weather conditions. In a press briefing, he noted that air traffic controller issues accounted for less than 10% of delay minutes.

Improved Metrics

Despite the challenges, Secretary Buttigieg noted that 2023 has witnessed the lowest cancellation rate in the past five years, standing at 1.3%. This figure is even lower than pre-pandemic levels. He also commended the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) efforts to pressure airlines into providing better support for stranded passengers.

So far, major U.S. airlines have navigated the Thanksgiving rush with little disruption, despite wind and rain on the East Coast. According to data from OAG, U.S. airlines reported a 99.7% completion factor (CF) and 58 cancellations on Tuesday. Both United and American reported zero mainline cancelations on November 21.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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