MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From the studios of NPR West, this is Day to Day. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX COHEN, host:

And I'm Alex Cohen. Thousands of flights canceled. More than a 100,000 passengers stuck in airports, and the busy summer travel season hasn't even begun.

BRAND: American Airlines canceled 900 flights today because of safety concerns. That's after grounding 1,000 planes yesterday.

COHEN: This latest blow is the result of an industry-wide review of airline compliance with Federal safety standards

BRAND: NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates went to Los Angeles International Airport to witness the chaos.

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES: I'm at the American Airlines terminal at LAX. It's still dark and already the lines are long. Patient airline staff are helping passengers through the check-in process.

(Soundbite of airport)

GRIGSBY BATES: But not everybody waiting in line will get on board. Chester Maple (ph) is standing almost at the head of a line, waiting to see a ticket agent. He was supposed to be going to Austin, Texas - but his flight was canceled Here's how he found out.

Mr. CHESTER MAPLE (Passenger, American Airlines): Actually, when I went to the self-service area, I scanned and a little information card spit out that said that they were unable to complete my transaction and that I needed to see an agent for assistance.

GRIGSBY BATES: And as he suspected, the news was not good.

Mr. MAPLE: I was standing over in the line, and a young lady came over and said yeah it looks like that flight's probably been canceled, so...

GRIGSBY BATES: Maple understands the root of the chaos. American is grounding about a third of its scheduled flights today to check the wiring in its wheel wells. They need to be in compliance with FAA rulings. This mostly affects the MD-80s, the workhorses of the American fleet. That's the plane Maple was taking. He has a particularly urgent need to travel to Austin today.

Mr. MAPLE: I'm trying to get to my girlfriend and our 15-month-old baby are there for a wedding right now. My girlfriend is a bridesmaid in this wedding. I have her dress and her shoes that she's supposed to wear in my bags.

GRIGSBY BATES: Yikes! Despite that pressure, Maple, like most of the passengers I see in line this morning, is philosophical about his canceled flight.

Mr. MAPLE: I feel bad for the ticket agents on the counter because it's not like it's their fault.

GRIGSBY BATES: Maybe that understanding resulted in good karma for him. As I was leaving the airport, so was Maple for Austin.

Mr. MAPLE: Yeah, essentially American Airlines just switched me to another airline. They book the ticket through their system here at the ticket counter.

GRIGSBY BATES: One he hopes won't suffer its own cancellation trauma. Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR News.

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