‘I just want to hug my grandparents’: US flight cancellation woes continue through Christmas weekend

Written by on December 25, 2021

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Cancelled flights tied to COVID staffing points

Airways are canceling a whole lot of flights because the omicron variant jumbled schedules and drew down staffing ranges at some carriers through the busy vacation journey season. (Dec. 24)


Rohit Tejwani was mid-air Friday on his technique to a layover in Salt Lake Metropolis when he realized he wouldn’t make it to his dad and mom’ place by Christmas morning.

The 34-year-old doctor’s connecting flight to Seattle was one in all a whole lot canceled by U.S. airways over Christmas weekend. Tejwani had been trying ahead to spending Christmas Day along with his dad and mom; it was the primary time he had the break day in 4 years, and this vacation was notably particular as a result of his mother simply accomplished most cancers remedy.

As an alternative, he spent the evening alone in Utah. 

“I am unable to consider anybody who needs to spend Christmas alone in an airport lodge in some random metropolis,” he mentioned. “It’s simply tremendous irritating. … There is no actual good technique to get that point again with folks’s households, particularly round a vacation like this.”

Delta Air Strains, United Airways, JetBlue Airways and American Airways canceled greater than 750 flights mixed on Christmas Day, and cancellations are set to pull on by means of Sunday, upending plans throughout one of many busiest journey durations of the 12 months. 

►’Maintain time is 2 hours and 43 minutes’: Christmas flight cancellations ship vacationers scrambling

►Nervous about journey (once more?): What to learn about airline, lodge and cruise cancellation insurance policies as omicron surges

Lots of of Christmas flights canceled 

As of 5:45 p.m. ET Saturday, in accordance with flight tracker FlightAware: 

  • Delta has canceled greater than 300 Christmas Day flights, or about 15% of scheduled flights, in addition to greater than 80 Sunday flights.
  • United has thus far canceled 240 Saturday flights – 12% of scheduled flights – and greater than 70 Sunday flights. 
  • JetBlue canceled 125 Saturday flights.
  • American canceled greater than 90 Saturday flights.

Sunday cancellation charges remained low at JetBlue and American as of Saturday afternoon.

All 4 airways mentioned omicron circumstances amongst employees had been driving cancellations.

“A mix of points, together with however not restricted to inclement climate in some areas of the nation and the influence of the omicron variant, are driving cancellations and potential delays,” reads a Delta assertion shared with USA TODAY Saturday.

Delta expects greater than 300 of its flights can be canceled on Sunday.

JetBlue spokesperson Derek Dombrowski mentioned the airline has seen an “rising quantity” of sick calls as a result of fast-spreading omicron variant, regardless of getting into the vacation season with the very best staffing ranges for the reason that begin of the pandemic. 

►Christmas flights canceled: United, Delta say omicron spike is inflicting some vacation flight cancellations

“(We) are utilizing all assets obtainable to us to cowl our staffing wants,” Dombrowski mentioned. “The well being and security of our crewmembers and clients stays our high precedence as we work by means of this pandemic, and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience that these schedule modifications deliver through the holidays.”

He warned that further flight cancellations and different delays “stay a risk” as omicron continues to unfold. 

American Airways spokesperson Derek Partitions mentioned the corporate was “working exhausting” to rebook clients rapidly.

United spokesperson Maddie King mentioned the airline was additionally working to rebook as many individuals as doable “and get them on their approach for the vacations.”

‘I simply need to hug my grandparents’

However for some vacationers, rebooking efforts have achieved little to ease their anxieties over lacking the vacations with their households. 

Tanika Smith-Brooks deliberate to fly from Florida to North Carolina together with her canines Friday afternoon to go to her grandmother, the primary time the 2 would have been collectively since April. However her flight was canceled, and Smith-Brooks was unable to seek out one other that may enable her to deliver her canines within the cabin regardless of spending hours attempting to get by means of the client help cellphone line. 

►Flight cancellations: What airways owe you when flights are canceled, delayed

Smith-Brooks mentioned she’s needed to clarify to her grandmother, who has dementia, a number of instances that she’s not in a position to come dwelling this Christmas this 12 months. 

“It’s not simply one other day. A very powerful a part of Christmas is being with your loved ones,” she mentioned. “My grandmother raised me as a result of my mother died after I was 5, so we’re extraordinarily shut. … I simply need to hug my grandparents.”

Comply with USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz. 

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