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Busy holiday travel weekend expected to impact stranded travelers at Denver International Airport

United Airlines-Pilots
Posted at 8:48 PM, Jun 28, 2023

DENVER — Travel experts urge passengers to pack their patience if they plan on flying through Denver International Airport (DEN) during this busy travel weekend.

United Airlines passengers have experienced major travel woes the past two days. Many were forced to sleep on cots or the airport floor due to dozens of cancellations.

Denver International Airport DIA

Local News

Thousands of passengers remain stranded at DIA Wednesday

Jessica Crawford
9:04 AM, Jun 28, 2023

"I've slept on the floor, and my wife found a seat," Andrew Ord, a United Airlines passenger, told Denver7 Wednesday.

Ord's flight was one of the nearly 2,000 United flights canceled between Monday and Wednesday evening due to poor weather in the Northeast andissues with the FAA alleged by United's CEO Scott Kirby. That makes up for the majority of cancellations by any airline. During that same time period, United also experienced more than 3,600 delays.

Other airlines contributed to thousands of more delays and cancellations within the last few days.

"I did 20 years extensive traveling [for] business. I've never seen such chaos and mismanagement in my life," Ord said. "This is a business. I don't know how else to put it. Something needs to be done."

Travel experts like AAA's Scott McKinley believe that the woes at DEN will be even more apparent during the busy holiday travel weekend.

"It is the perfect storm," McKinley said. "Because Colorado is such a significant airport — the third busiest in the world — because we're a major hub for United, which is suffering the worst of the delays and cancellations, we are seeing the cascading effect."

McKinley says passengers who already have flights booked to their holiday destination are more likely to make it there without any issues if those flights are scheduled for earlier in the day.

"So fly early if you can," McKinley said. "A lot of travelers are rebooking through the American West to get somewhere else. That's going to make the airport a madhouse. Look, that is unavoidable. There is no easy way to contend with massive crowds of frustrated people."

McKinley also believes current travel woes combined with the upcoming holiday weekend may create additional predicaments.

"So as folks are getting pushed off their flights because of delays or cancellations, they're rebooking, which is draining the very, very tight inventory that was already out there. That's why folks are seeing high, high ticket prices, low, low availability and really have to be flexible to move about however they can," he said. "The more flexibility you're able to bake in, the better. Consider wacky detours. If you need to get to O'Hare [International Airport], and the only way to do that is by way of Seattle, take the flight because there's not going to be a lot else available to you."

DEN is expecting more than 500,000 people to check in at TSA during the holiday weekend, which is about a 12 percent increase compared to the same time period last year.

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