'We feel the impacts': Montana travelers stuck as thousands of flights delayed, canceled

Airport travelers
Posted at 8:51 PM, Jun 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-28 11:35:25-04

BILLINGS — It's a situation every air traveler dreads—long delays, canceled flights, hours of waiting to reach customer service. But it's a real situation for travelers across the country this week.

Severe thunderstorms and air traffic control issues on the East Coast started a domino effect that canceled and delayed nearly 10,000 flights across the country.

“The impacts across the national airspace system can be significant, even if just one airport, one large airport, is affected," said Billings Airport Director Jeff Roach.

The delays were exacerbated by a summer forecast of packed flights and busy airports.

“The significant amount of air travel that is occurring this summer, as people are getting back into traveling again, when there is a delay or cancellation or a series of them, that can be a significant impact across the country," Roach said.

Along with the weather, Roach says a lack of staffing has been a big issue for airlines.

“There were delays due to their crew and aircraft and availability which they are having challenges with," Roach said.

But travelers can help cut down security lines by coming prepared.

“Arrive at the airport early even here in Billings, and making sure they do not have things in their carry-on luggage that impact not only them but other passengers,” he said.

Roach says a persistent problem is travelers boarding planes in Billings trying to bring guns in their carry-on luggage. He reminded travelers to check bags before traveling to make sure firearms aren't inside.