As Thanksgiving approaches, a record number of travelers are facing disruptions in their plans, with thousands of flights delayed or canceled. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, however, appears to be upbeat about the Department of Transportation’s handling of the situation despite the evident chaos.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts that 55.4 million Americans are traveling for Thanksgiving. While seamless travel experiences are crucial, the reality is starkly different, with travel disruptions rippling across roads, railways, and the air.
As of Tuesday, the number of delayed flights in the U.S. has surpassed 2,000, with FlightAware’s live tracker reporting 55 cancellations on Wednesday morning alone. A storm system affecting the southern and northeastern states, coupled with gridlock on major highways, has exacerbated the situation.
Gridlocked traffic on Interstate 295 in Washington, DC, has left drivers stranded, prompting recommendations to avoid the stretch of road until after 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Similar scenes unfolded on Los Angeles’s I-405, where videos captured slow-moving traffic across all 12 lanes.
At DC’s Reagan International Airport, extensive lines depicted the harsh reality for Thanksgiving Eve travelers, enduring hours-long waits for security checks. Reports from Pittsburgh International Airport suggest overwhelming crowds, with even the TSA PreCheck line extending beyond capacity.
Amidst this travel chaos, Secretary Buttigieg has released public service announcements, highlighting what he sees as the Department of Transportation’s successful handling of the heavy travel load. In a video statement, he remarked, “…so far this year, our aviation system is handling the increased volume well,” emphasizing that cancellations are lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Buttigieg assured travelers, “the Department of Transportation has your back” regarding delays and cancellations, urging people to trust the department’s support during this challenging time.