The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for just about everyone. From retail workers to restaurant servers, and from Uber drivers to airline pilots, this boosted season of consumerism has consistently conjured extra work for everyone involved.
But this year, thanks to a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the latest omicron variant, a new wrinkle has developed in this otherwise well-oiled machine, and some industries are being wholly decimated by the virus.
On Sunday, the day after Christmas, thousands of flights were canceled nationwide, largely due to the pandemic itself.
More than 4,000 flights have been delayed or canceled across the nation Sunday amid the latest omicron-driven coronavirus surge.
Almost 1,000 flights entering, leaving or flying within the United States were canceled and about 3,500 were delayed Sunday, according to the tracking website FlightAware. More than 4,000 flights were delayed or canceled Christmas Day as days of scheduling nightmares left holiday travelers scrambling.
The trouble appeared to hit some carriers by surprise.
Delta, United and JetBlue have blamed the omicron variant for staffing problems that led to flight cancellations. “This was unexpected,” United spokesperson Maddie King said of omicron’s impact on staffing.
The news comes just weeks after similar cancellations rocked the airline industry, with some of these previous shortcomings being blamed on companies’ vaccine mandates and staffers who refused to comply.