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FAA Furloughs Kick in, Causing Major Airport Delays

If you’re flying today or anytime soon, be wary: Get to the airport early. And keep close tabs on the status of your flight.

The first round of FAA-administered furloughs of air traffic control workers kicked in over the weekend, causing delays at airports across the States. The furloughs, which began on Sunday, cut staff at control towers by 10 percent.

While we can’t predict exactly how the furloughs will affect travel throughout the week, flyers should be prepared for the worst: extensive flight delays, more flight cancellations, and longer lines at U.S. airports. The FAA estimates that the number of late flights could increase by 30 to 40 percent at some airports, with delays ranging from 50 minutes to two hours.

In a statement, the FAA said it “will be working with the airlines and using a comprehensive set of air traffic management tools to minimize the delay impacts of lower staffing as we move into the busy summer travel season.” Take that as you will.

Travelers have already experienced significant delays at some airports. CBS News reported delays of more than three hours at Los Angeles International Airport yesterday. According to a story in The Washington Post, New York-area airports saw significant flight delays on Sunday as well. Some experts are predicting that delays could worsen throughout the week.

By now, you may have already heard the news from your favorite airline. Some carriers sent out emails warning about possible flight delays or posted notices on airline websites. A message on the United site warns travelers to expect “significant delays across the nation’s air traffic system.”

Alaska sent an email announcing that it is allowing travelers to rebook flights with no change fees or increase in fares when space is available. But not all airlines are being as gracious. So far, Alaska is the only airline we’ve heard of that is waiving fees for itinerary changes.

Have you experienced delays at any airports? Weigh in below.

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