Delta preparing for potential 'operational challenges' as experts predict record-breaking holiday travel

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- If you're hitting the road or taking to the skies this holiday weekend, you may want to pack more than just your swimsuit and sunscreen.

Patience will be important as AAA predicts just under 48,000,000 Americans will travel to celebrate the July 4 weekend.

"That's the second-highest on record since we've been doing these forecasts," said Nick Jarmusz with AAA. "If you look just at automobile travel though, we're going to be at 42,000,000 and that is a new record that we're setting this year."

While 42,000,000 are expected to hit the road, AAA predicts 3.5,000,000 will take to the skies over the course of the holiday weekend.

In anticipation of what it says could be its busiest holiday travel period since before the pandemic, Delta is offering customers the opportunity to change flights free of charge between now and Monday as a part of its July 4 holiday travel waiver.

In an email sent to customers, Delta says it predicts "operational challenges" over the course of the weekend. The company released this statement:

"Delta people are working around the clock to rebuild Delta's operation while making it as resilient as possible to minimize the ripple effect of disruptions. Even so, some operational challenges are expected this holiday weekend. This unique waiver is being issued to give Delta customers greater flexibility to plan around busy travel times, weather forecasts and other variables without worrying about a potential cost to do so."

Brennen Scarborough is sent to travel to Milwaukee from Hawaii over the weekend for a family wedding. As he prepares to board his flight Sunday, he says the offer from Delta is appreciated but concerning.

"You want to get to where you want to go as fast as possible, and it seems you might not be able to do that depending on where you're flying out of," Scarborough said, adding he doesn't expect a lot of people to make use of the waiver. "People are flying back home or people are going for vacations that they paid for and they want to maximize the days."

Scarborough is hopeful to do just that, maximize the days he has scheduled to spend with family here in Wisconsin he hasn't seen in months.

"You only have a short time amount with the family you're seeing. I'm only coming for a little under two weeks," Scarborough said. "Hopefully going to get in when I'm scheduled to, but if not, losing time with family, that's really hard."

Whether you're flying or driving, AAA recommends you have a plan B and plan C just in case your plans go astray.

"There's the potential for delays and cancelations at the airport, traffic delays certainly, especially if travelling through metropolitan areas," Jarmusz said. "Be prepared and pack a little extra patience. It's going to be busy on the roads, busy at the airport."

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