More than 2,500 flights canceled for second day in a row

Wintry weather combined with the pandemic to frustrate air travelers whose return flights home from the holidays were canceled or delayed in the first days of the new year.

More than 2,500 U.S. flights and more than 4,100 worldwide were grounded Sunday, according to tracking service That followed Saturday’s mass cancellations of more than 2,700 U.S. flights, and more than 4,700 worldwide.

And some 1,700 more U.S. flights and more than 3,000 more across the globe were scrapped as of 6 a.m. EST Monday, FlightAware said. The numbers were sure to rise as a storm front made its way up the Eastern Seaboard.

” “It was absolute chaos,” Natasha Enos said. Enos spent Saturday and Sunday night in Denver International Airport, during what was meant to be a brief layover for a trip across the country from Washington to San Francisco.

Saturday’s single-day U.S. toll of grounded flights was the highest since just before Christmas, when airlines began blaming staffing shortages on increasing COVID-19 infections among crews.

Travelers look at a display board showing cancelled and
Travelers look at a display board showing cancelled and delayed flights at Orlando International Airport on New Year’s weekend, despite thousands of flight cancellations and delays across United States.

Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A winter storm that hit the Midwest on Saturday made Chicago the worst place in the country for travelers throughout the weekend. On Sunday, about 25% of O’Hare Airport flights were cancelled.

Denver’s airport also faced significant disruptions. Enos was on Frontier Airlines and didn’t know that her flight to California had been canceled until she arrived in Denver. Then it was a rush to find alternative flights and navigate through baggage claims packed with stranded and confused travelers, amid concerns about the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19.

“It was a lot of people in a very small space and not everybody was masking,” said the 28-year-old financial analyst. There were many exhausted children and families that were stressed. “

The Detroit International Airport authority in Michigan said that crews worked around the clock to clear snow from the airport and keep it clean. Atlanta’s airport authority recommended that travelers arrive early due to high passenger volumes, weather problems and staff shortages caused by pandemics. This could increase the wait time to pass security. Hawaiian Airlines stated that it was forced to cancel flights across the Pacific and between the islands because of staff shortages.

Southwest Airlines said it was working to help customers affected by about 400 flights canceled around the country Sunday, about 11% of its schedule. As the Eastern Seaboard storm system moves in, the airline based in Dallas anticipates more challenges.

Snowstorm to be expected in Northeast

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Delta Air Lines said Sunday it was issuing a travel waiver for planned flights this week out of mid-Atlantic airports in Baltimore and Washington in preparation for forecasted winter weather.

American Airlines said most of Sunday’s canceled flights had been canceled ahead of time to avoid last-minute disruptions at the airport.

SkyWest, a regional carrier that operates flights under the names American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express, grounded nearly 500 flights Sunday, about 20% of its schedule, according to FlightAware.

Airlines has stated that they will take steps to decrease cancellations due to workers who have been affected by Omicron. United will pay three times or more the usual wage to pilots for taking up available flights during January. A union spokesperson stated that Spirit Airlines has reached an agreement with the Association of Flight Attendants to pay cabin crews double their wages through Tuesday.

Airlines hope that extra pay and reduced schedules get them through the holiday crush and into the heart of January, when travel demand usually drops off. Because most business travellers are still grounded, the seasonal drop could be more severe than usual this year.

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