United, Delta, JetBlue canceling many Christmas Eve flights due to omicron surge

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Friday, December 24, 2021
Hundreds of Christmas Eve flights canceled amid omicron surge
Delta, United and JetBlue announced they are canceling more than 300 flights on Christmas Eve -- some due to the surge of the omicron variant.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Major airlines have collectively canceled hundreds of flights for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, some due to the surge of the omicron variant.

United Airlines has canceled 182 flights for Friday and 109 for Saturday, telling customers it was "due to an increase in COVID cases limiting crew availability."

A spokesperson for United released the following statement:

"The nationwide spike in omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation," it read. "As a result, we've unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport. We're sorry for the disruption and are working hard to rebook as many people as possible and get them on their way for the holidays."

According to the airline tracking website Flight Aware, the number of cancellations had jumped to 482 flights for Friday.

Delta Airlines is right behind United with 161 canceled flights for Friday and 137 for Saturday, while JetBlue is now up to 72 cancellations, according to Flight Aware.

Delta cited a combination of issues, including potential inclement weather and the impact of the omicron variant.

A spokesperson released the following statement:

"Delta teams have exhausted all options and resources -- including rerouting and substitutions of aircraft and crews to cover scheduled flying -- before canceling around 90 flights for Friday," it read. "We apologize to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans. Delta people are working hard to get them to where they need to be as quickly and as safely as possible on the next available flight."

American Airlines is in good shape in comparison, cancelling just 14 flights across the country.

Additionally, Alaska Airlines says they have had to cancel a small number of flights over the past several days due to some of their employees quarantining after reporting that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The airline is now offering extra pay to their healthy employees who can work added shifts into this upcoming Christmas weekend. According to FlightAware, Alaska has only canceled 10 flights so far for Christmas Eve.

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Meanwhile, air travel is surging 184% compared to 2020, according to AAA, with pandemic fatigue setting in.

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

"The checkpoint is going to look a little different if you haven't flown since before the pandemic," said Lisa Farbstein of the TSA. "TSA officers are gonna be wearing gloves, they're gonna be wearing masks and you will be standing behind acrylic shields again to help do what we can do help reduce touch points."

More than 100 million Americans are traveling this holiday weekend but even with that surge in air travel, the vast majority are hitting the roads.

AAA says the best time to drive is right now. If you find yourself driving between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday, expect gridlock.


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