Adam Steele spent six hours in the Charlotte Airport Monday, navigating delays and changing flight plans, trying to get to Erie for a job at the Chautauqua Institution. 
"All of a sudden, my flight got delayed, and then suddenly my gate was changed too, which threw me for a loop," he said. "And then we were sitting there, we were supposed to depart in five minutes, and we had no plane. We weren't boarding."
He's just one of thousands of Americans who dealt with travel woes this holiday weekend, problems caused by weather and by a lack of pilots that started two years ago.
"The airlines were having a very difficult time staying afloat, so they offered early incentive buyouts to reduce the cost of operations, which cut into the pilot workforce," said Erie Airport Executive Director Derek Martin.
That decision has had a major ripple effect, with airlines having no backup plans when pilots get sick or delayed.
It means passengers need to be vigilant. 
A nightmarish weekend of travel, where travelers like Steele feel lucky after waiting for hours. 
"I thank my lucky stars," he said. "


Because I would hate to have my flight canceled. I can't even imagine not being able to get my flight.