It’s the most wonderful time of year; isn’t that what the old song says? This is a time for gathering with loved ones, exchanging gifts, and getting that yearly update from the farther reaches of the family.
But with COVID still raging in the dying weeks of 2021, some folks are just going to have to do without.
Airlines canceled hundreds of flights as the omicron variant jumbled schedules and drew down staffing levels at some carriers during the busy holiday travel season.Advertisement - story continues below
Delta Air Lines and United Airlines said they canceled flights because of staff shortages tied to the omicron variant. Delta canceled 145 flights on Friday and 111 for Christmas Day, according to FlightAware. (Other factors, such as weather, are also causing cancellations.) United called off 175 flights on Friday and 69 on Saturday.
Not all airlines said COVID was disrupting their travel schedules. American Airlines said it had “nothing to report,” while Southwest Airlines said “things are running smoothly.” JetBlue did not respond to a request for comment.
Airlines were scrambling to respond:
“The nationwide spike in omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation,” United said in a statement. “As a result, we’ve unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport.”Advertisement - story continues below
Delta said it canceled flights Friday because of the impact of omicron and possibility of bad weather after it had “exhausted all options and resources — including rerouting and substitutions of aircraft and crews to cover scheduled flying.”
This is far from the first time that COVID has impacted air travel, with several airlines experiencing cancelations that appeared to correspond with their vaccine mandate announcements.