COVID holiday travel: United, Delta, JetBlue cancel many Christmas Eve flights due to weather, omicron rise

NEW YORK (WABC) – At least three major airlines have announced that together they will cancel more than 300 flights by Christmas Eve – some due to the increase in the omicron variant.

United Airlines said on Thursday that they had canceled 112 flights in advance for Friday. The United app told customers on some canceled flights that it is “due to an increase in COVID cases that limits crew availability.”

According to the airline’s tracking website Flight Aware, the number of cancellations had increased to 168 flights on Friday – that is 8% of all United Airlines departures on Christmas Eve.
A United spokesman issued the following statement:

“The nationwide increase in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation. As a result, we have unfortunately had to cancel some flights and alert affected customers before they arrive at the airport. We apologize for the inconvenience and work hard to book as many as possible and get them on their way to the holidays. “

Delta Airlines is right behind them with 1[ads1]15 canceled flights (5% of total flights) and JetBlue is now up to 49 cancellations, according to Flight Aware.

Delta says this is due to a combination of problems, including potentially bad weather and the impact of the omicron variant.

A spokesperson issued the following statement:
Delta teams have used up all options and resources – including rerouting and replacements of planes and crews to cover scheduled flights – before canceling around 90 flights on Friday. We apologize to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans. Delta people are working hard to get them where they need to be as quickly and as safely as possible on the next available flight. “

American Airlines is in good shape for comparison. The airline says they have only canceled six flights across the country.

In addition, Alaska Airlines says it has had to cancel a small number of flights in recent days due to some of its employees being quarantined after reporting that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The airline now offers extra pay to its healthy employees who can work extra shifts into this upcoming Christmas weekend. According to FlightAware, Alaska has only canceled nine flights so far by Christmas Eve.

READ ALSO | The busiest travel day of the year in the middle of the COVID wave over Tri-State

Meanwhile, air traffic will increase by 184% compared to 2020, according to AAA, with pandemic fatigue.

If you have not flown in a while, the TSA has this message:

“The checkpoint is going to look a little different if you have not flown since before the pandemic,” said Lisa Farbstein of the TSA. “TSA officers are going to wear gloves, they are going to wear masks and you will be behind the acrylic shield again to help do what we can to reduce touch points.”

More than 100 million Americans travel this holiday weekend, but even with that increase in flights, the vast majority are on their way out.

AAA says the best time to drive is right now. If you drive between 14.00 and 18.00 on Friday, you can count on gridlock.

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