LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Those heading to airports throughout Michigan may be waiting on the pleasant peninsula longer than expected as aviation executives predict a significant jump in travel. 

The traditional seven-day kickoff to the busy U.S. summer travel season will surpass the 299,500 flights flown in the same 2022 period and will be just shy of the 321,000 flights in 2019 according to the Federal Aviation Administration. 

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On Wednesday, Georgia based Delta Airlines estimated that they will service 2.8 million passengers during the Memorial Holiday period, a 17% increase from last year. It also forecasted that it will have the busiest Memorial Day holiday in more than a decade, estimating some 2.9 million passengers between May 25 to the 30th.  

Some airlines are opting for larger planes as sometimes fewer flights are available, a decision the FAA said gives airlines, “the ability to reduce operations during the peak summer travel period, which are likely to be exacerbated by the effects of Air Traffic Controller staffing shortfalls.”

The American Automobile Association (AAA) has projected that nearly 3.5 million people will be flying beginning Thursday through Monday. 

“The airports are packed,” Chief Commercial Officer of the Airlines Reporting Corp., Steve Solomon said, which processes and tracks airline ticket sales. “So travelers should prepare to get to the airport early, allow adequate time to get through security screening, through the TSA, and expect to see a lot of people on really full planes.”

A flurry of thousands of canceled flights in the winter of 2022, resulted in a review of Southwest Airlines for having the highest number of cancellations. 

“USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service.  The Department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan,” The USDOT said in a tweet.

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Airlines have reported fewer and fewer flight cancellations in recent months.  In the first quarter of 2022 airlines canceled 4.1% of flights, 2.7% in all of 2022, and only 1.7% of flights in the first three months of 2023 according to the Federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics. 

Still experts are encouraging travelers to be prepared for flight delays and cancellations as the FAA anticipates Thursday will be the busiest day of the Memorial Day weekend with over 51,000 flights forecasted.