Flying the friendlier skies: How this Fourth of July travel season compares to last year

The holiday getaway is underway. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is expecting around 104,000 travelers to pass through security checkpoints on Friday.

Many passengers say traveling this Fourth of July weekend has been relatively low stress despite the big crowds. 

"It’s been good," said Cynthia Jones, who remembers the nightmares of last year. "That’s why I got to the airport so early, figuring I was going to be stuck in security and my flight was going to be canceled. I kept checking my phone. It wasn’t canceled. Much easier, less drama, security was a lot lighter, TSA was a lot friendlier."

Hundreds of thousands of passengers across the nation last year saw travel plans dashed around each holiday. Bad weather coupled with staffing shortages at control towers, on flights and on the ground were largely to blame. 

"Last year it was just congested, a lot of people, frustrations, no friendliness," Jones said. 

It was more of the same earlier in the week after airlines delayed or canceled thousands of flights. 

Ken Freeman was trying to fly from Chicago to Bluffton, South Carolina, but his airline on Friday grounded his plane. "No notice whatsoever, they canceled the flight. I had to rebook myself. I found a flight to Atlanta," Freeman said. 

Then he got stuck on the flight here in Atlanta, sat on the tarmac for three hours, and now, I’m going to drive to Bluffton," Freeman said