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Damaged luggage, lost wheelchair, hours on a tarmac: People say Fourth of July travel nightmares make them nervous to take flight

Travelers say they may not fly again this summer.

ATLANTA — Travelers are returning to airports nationwide in pre-pandemic records this Fourth of July weekend, but many continue to face thousands of flight delays and cancellations -- and that likely won't change through the summer.

From damaged luggage to being stuck on tarmacs, travelers said the holiday weekend has been challenging especially when traveling through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

“Things get broken and that sucks, but when you lose someone’s day chair and race chair – you’re taking away their entire life in a second," said wheelchair athlete, Julia Beckley.

The Colorado native was just one of several wheelchair athletes that traveled to Atlanta to participate in the AJC Peachtree Road Race this year.

"It’s not a small thing when someone is negligent with our chairs," added Beckley.

Beckley said she considers herself lucky that her wheelchair only suffered minor damage during travel and wasn't lost like others including Paralympian Hannah Babalola, whose chair was never placed on her flight causing her to bow out of the race.

Book author Arnold Thompson said he has to fly a lot for work and got stuck on the tarmac delaying his flight by more than 12 hours.

"When you sit on a plane for hours with a group of people and some have babies crying non-stop – it’s tough," Thompson said.

Mom to two young children, Judith Lesser said all of the delays and cancellations have her family planning ahead which includes showing up at the airport several hours in advance as they try to get back home to New York City.

“A lot of people are just more stressed and worried," she said. "Our flight coming out here was just an hour delayed and I think everyone was just bracing for it to be canceled."

TSA has screened more than two million passengers nationwide each day over the holiday weekend. 

Staffing and pilot shortages have led some airlines to cut flights for the summer season including Atlanta-based Delta who announced they will be cutting 100 flights a day until August.

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