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Flight delays, cancellations challenge travelers in Columbia and beyond

Millions will take to the roads and skies this Independence Day weekend with many facing higher gas prices and flight delays.

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — Nearly 50 million people are expected to take to the roads and skies this Independence Day, according to AAA.

As they go, delays and cancellations are just one of the challenges they'll face as record-high inflation drives up the cost of every day items.

Kenneth James was traveling from the Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) to New York for a funeral when his flight was cancelled.

"It was delayed twice and then they deboarded us for plane issues and then they cancelled it," James said. "So, I'm going to miss the funeral."

High demand, staffing challenges, and bad weather are partly to blame with the flight tracking website FlightAware reporting roughly 7,000 delays and 570 cancellations on Friday alone.

RELATED: July 4 holiday travel sees pre-pandemic sized crowds at airports

Tommy Perry and his wife were among those impacted.

"So, it's no need to fly to Charlotte and sleep in an airport tonight when we've got three more flights to catch," Perry said. "So, they're trying to get us out tomorrow at 2 o'clock."

Credit: Kayland Hagwood
Travelers at Columbia Metropolitan Airport

Kim Crafton is with CAE.

"We have seen the delays. We have seen the cancellations as well. A lot of that though is due to the summer storms that we inevitably have," Crafton said. "I think people who are planning to travel for the holiday season just need to do the thing that we have heard many times over which is pack your patience. Be mindful of the fact that there are a lot of people who are taking to the skies.... So, arrive early, give yourself plenty of time to get through the TSA security checkpoint, and just know a lot of people are working behind the scenes to get you where you need to go."

From the skies to the roads where gas prices are averaging about $4.35 in South Carolina. That's about $1.50 more than last year, according to AAA.

RELATED: After two pandemic years, prepare for summer travel chaos

Groceries are also more expensive, making holiday cookouts more pricey than the past.

"The good news is we're down a little bit in gas prices from where we were a couple weeks ago, but still, you know, quite a bit higher than where we were," Dr. William Hauk, Professor of Economics at USC, said. "Maybe by the end of this year the worst will be past us... but it's always hard to predict the future."

Travelers are hoping normalcy comes soon.

"We keep hope alive, keep the faith and God will get us out of here," Perry said.

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