Omicron Surge Causes Travel Chaos During Peak Holiday Travel Weekend as At Least 6,000 Flights Are Cancelled

By Paul Riegler on 26 December 2021
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The wave of massive flight cancellations continued on Sunday, the day after Christmas, which is known as Boxing Day in some countries and Stefanitag in others.

An omicron surge in the midst of a the Christmas holiday weekend has resulted in an additional 1,200 flights being cancelled in the United States on Sunday, including those flying in and out of the country, according to data from FlightAware, which tracks such information.  Another 5,000 experienced delays.

The delays on Sunday compounded travel woes across the globe.

Globally, airlines cancelled at least 6,000 flights on Friday, which was Christmas Eve, as well as on Saturday, and Sunday.  This figure includes some 1,800 flights within, into, or out of the United States.

Four airlines – Delta, United, JetBlue, and Alaska – topped the cancellation list Sunday with three-digit figures each, many citing “crew availability due to Covid” as the reason.

“It was a complete meltdown,” a manager at an airline told Frequent Business Traveler under the cloak of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the carrier.

The string of cancellations began Thursday when United Airlines started to post cancellations, eventually cancelling 201 on Christmas Eve Day.

“The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation,” a United memo viewed by FBT read.

Delta followed late on Thursday with 173 flight cancellations for Friday, citing multiple issues including the omicron variant.

JetBlue went on to cancel 70 flights on Friday and Alaska cancelled 17.

By nighttime Sunday, the four carriers had cancelled several thousand flights, leaving hundreds of thousands of holiday travelers stranded.

Meanwhile, American Airlines, the world’s largest airline, ended up cancelling far fewer flights than its competitors, only cancelling 2% of its flights Saturday and Sunday.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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