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Fourth of July flight delays, cancellations contributing to summer travel woes

Travelers across the country are left frustrated as over 35,000 flight delays and 7,000 cancellations have plagued the airline industry since Saturday, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking company. 

Meanwhile, across the country on Friday, airports are expected to witness more than 2.8 million people passing through Transportation Security Administration screening — potentially setting a new record for Fourth of July holiday travel. 

With the Fourth of July holiday approaching, the Federal Aviation Administration predicts Thursday to be the busiest day in terms of scheduled flights, with over 52,000 expected. On Wednesday, around 1,200 flights were canceled as airlines struggled to recover in preparation for the impending surge in holiday travel. 

An incident involving Delta Airlines on Wednesday added to the already chaotic travel period when a flight made an emergency landing at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Flight 1092 was carrying 101 passengers and crew when it landed without its nose gear. Everyone was successfully evacuated onto the runway using emergency slides, and no injuries were reported. 

Passenger Chris Skotarczak, who was onboard the flight, described the harrowing experience. 

"It sounded like a loud thud. And then just scraping of metal on concrete," Skotarczak said. 

Delta Air Lines issued an apology to its customers, referring to the emergency landing as a "rare occurrence." But the incident reflects the magnitude of travel troubles faced by flyers this week. For the fifth consecutive day, weather conditions and staffing issues have wreaked havoc at airports nationwide, resulting in delays and cancellations. 

Rolyn Simmons II attempted to beat the holiday travel rush, but instead found himself caught in the chaos. His journey included multiple flights from Houston to Nashville, Nashville to Baltimore, Baltimore to Long Island, and finally, an Uber ride into Manhattan. 

"I almost lost it. That last leg ..." said Simmons.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg acknowledged the stress on the travel system this summer, noting improvements compared to last year.  

"We've known that summer is going to be a stress test on the system. The good news is, we've seen a lot of progress this year improvements through Memorial Day and also major passengers rights compared to a year ago," he said. 

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