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Thousands of canceled flights leave metro Detroiters stranded over the weekend

Detroit metro airport
Posted at 11:32 PM, Apr 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-04 23:32:40-04

ROMULUS, Mich. (WXYZ) — For many metro Detroit residents, it was a weekend full of travel headaches as thousands of flights across the country were delayed and canceled for a number of reasons right in the middle of spring break.

Airlines have blamed the delays on severe weather, technology issues and air traffic control issues. The combination resulted in more than 3,500 U.S. flights being canceled over the weekend and another 760 cancellations on Monday, according to FlightAware.

More than 24,000 flights worldwide and 10,000 U.S. flights were delayed between Sunday and Monday, including 300 at Detroit metro airport.

The baggage claim at Detroit metro Monday evening marked the end of spring break for some and for the others, the end of a long and exhausting weekend.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate this travel experience," 7 Action News reporter Brett Kast asked.

"Zero," traveler Laura Straus responded.

She and her granddaughter were delayed for more than eight hours at Orlando’s airport before finally getting a flight, but others weren’t as lucky. Around the corner from their baggage carousel at baggage services, dozens of bags sat waiting for their owners, who haven’t made it home yet.

Janice Warren and her family got stuck over the weekend in Miami.

“It was terrible to see," Warren said. "I saw people already laying down on the floor because they knew they were going to be there. They had no way out of it.”

Warren and her family were on their way home from vacationing in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. They got a hotel in Miami before eventually getting a rental car to drive to Atlanta, where they found a new flight to Detroit.

“There were 11 of us, so we had to rent two SUV's to drive nine hours all night long to get to Atlanta,” Warren said.

“Call line (over the weekend) was 300% higher, maybe 500%," said David Fishman, president of Cadillac Travel Group in Royal Oak. "When these things happen, our phones start ringing.”

Fishman says this weekend was a combination of issues from severe weather to large spring break crowds, along with airlines that still aren’t back to normal from the pandemic.

“You have probably less staff and less flights during a time when the flights get canceled, which makes it even more difficult during the busier periods,” Fishman said. "The dominoes start falling and now, you’re trying to re-accommodate people whose flights are canceled, and then the people who are already on the flights the next day because it’s spring break, there’s no space.”

Fishman recommends buying travel insurance, which can help cover unforeseen costs like additional nights in a hotel and rental cars, which airlines are not required to pay for when weather is the cause of cancellations. He also recommends using big airlines that have multiple flights going to and from Detroit, which lowers the chances of getting stuck.

“We got 99% of our people home this weekend, which is good,” Fishman said.

Although Warren and her family got home nearly 48 hours later than expected, she says her family still had a wonderful trip and is thankful everyone is now back home.

“I was upset, I was angry, I wont say I wasn't, but I just contained it," Warren said. “The St. Croix part was so good nobody got that upset."