Flight cancellations down for August as global air travel reaches pre-pandemic levels

Air travel cancellations were down in August, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as global air travel rates reach pre-pandemic levels. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI

Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Air travel cancellations dropped slightly for U.S. flights in August, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as global air travel numbers reach their pre-pandemic levels.

Global air travel increased by approximately 47% in 2022 compared to the previous year, with the United Nations predicting that flights would return to, or surpass, pre-pandemic levels by 2023.

In October, Bloomberg reported that air travel rates had indeed surpassed pre-pandemic levels, according to the aviation analytic firm Cirium.

"For the first eight months of 2023, 1.7% of flights have been canceled, far below the 3.0% cancellation rate for the first eight months of last year and the 2.3% cancellation rate for the first eight months of pre-pandemic 2019," the U.S. Department of Transportation said in a press release Tuesday.

The DOT also says new policies have improved customer experiences regarding canceled flights.

"After a two-year DOT push to improve the passenger experience, the 10 largest airlines now guarantee meals and free rebooking on the same airline and nine guarantee hotel accommodations as part of the Department's Airline Customer Service Dashboard," the DOT said.

In December, Southwest Airlines experienced a large number of cancellations as severe weather hampered holiday travel, leading to an apology from Southwest CEO Bob Jordan.

"I want everyone who is dealing with the problems we've been facing, whether you haven't been able to get to where you need to go or you're one of our heroic employees caught up in a massive effort to stabilize the airline, to know that we are doing everything we can to return to normal operation," Jordan said at the time.

The DOT also said it was looking to implement new consumer protection policies.

"In May, the DOT announced plans to launch a new rulemaking that would propose to make passenger compensation and amenities mandatory so that travelers are taken care of when airlines cause flight delays or cancellations, such as staffing issues or mechanical problems," the DOT said.