The recent cancellation of hundreds of flights across country, including the Bay Area, has also led to a cascading shortage of rental cars, according to industry experts.
Some 300 flights into and out of the Bay Area’s three major airports – San Francisco International, Oakland International and Mineta San Jose International – were canceled on Thursday alone, with hundreds more canceled earlier in the week, according to the real-time flight statistics website FlightAware.
The vast majority of those canceled flights have been Southwest Airlines flights. Nearly 2,400 Southwest flights were canceled nationwide Thursday and more than 2,500 were canceled on Wednesday, roughly 60 percent of the airline’s total number of flights.
According to the rental car company Hertz, which also owns the Dollar, Firefly and Thrifty car rental brands, the canceled flights and subsequently stranded or delayed passengers have had a notable effect on the rental car industry.
“While the holiday season is always a busy one for Hertz, severe weather and widespread flight cancellations over the last week have led to increased demand for new bookings, reservation modifications and one-way rentals,” Hertz said in a statement.
Spokespersons for rental car companies Avis, Budget and Enterprise did not return requests for comment about potential issues providing rental cars to stranded travelers.
Federal officials including U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg have called for Southwest to be held accountable for the rash of cancellations, which Buttigieg argued on Thursday were not weather related, as other airlines did not suffer major cancellations.
Only 43 Southwest flights were canceled nationwide Friday, only a handful of which were in the Bay Area, according to FlightAware.