Air travelers are experiencing delays the government warned us about a few months ago. The delays are reportedly caused by forced federal spending cuts. On Monday, New York City-area airports reported delays for all incoming flights because air traffic controllers were forced to take unpaid time off.
Overall, furloughs kicked in on Sunday for 47,000 Federal Aviation Administration workers, including 15,000 air traffic controllers.
“Throughout today, the FAA has put in place a series of traffic management initiatives around the country to manage both reduced staffing as a result of employee furloughs and weather related issues,” Department of Transportation Press Secretary Justin Nisly said in a statement.
The FAA said there were 400 furlough-related flight delays on Sunday alone. Examples of the flight delays occurred on two Alaska Airlines flights destined for Los Angeles International Airport. The flights were diverted 60 miles away to Ontario International Airport Sunday night due to furloughs and bad weather. Due to the delay, the airline had to bus passengers to LAX. However, the airline waived rebooking fees through Tuesday, citing furloughs.
These delays are the only beginning. FAA workers are required to take a total of 11 days off by the month of September. The workers must take off at least one day every two weeks which means 1,500 controllers could be off the job per day.
“The best indicator of what this is going to be like is (that) we ran delays on Sunday — not one of the busiest days of the week — … on a perfect weather day,” said Stephen Abraham, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association representative in JFK.
In addition to delays, there were another 400 flights canceled Monday and 50 flights canceled Tuesday cancelled as of 5 am ET.
So what is your best bet for dealing with the delays? Be sure to check your flight status before heading to the airport. Be sure to purchase travel insurance to make sure your travel investment is protected against delays, cancellations and many other unforeseeable events.