Holiday flight cancellations skyrocket with Covid-19 disruptions and bad weather

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Data from the FlightAware website shows more than 4,731 flights were canceled worldwide on Saturday – by far the biggest day of cancellations since the collapse began on Christmas Eve. At least 2,739 of the cancellations occurred in the United States, to or from the United States.

Sunday cancellations in the United States already count 1,699 flights, FlightAware showed. Sunday is typically the busiest travel day of the week, and this Sunday is likely a busy travel day as Christmas vacation and New Years week draw to a close. The Transportation Security Administration said Thursday it plans to screen 10 million people from Friday to Monday.

Including Sunday, airlines have canceled more than 14,000 flights in the past 10 days, including Christmas Eve, according to a CNN tally of FlightAware data.

The problem is expected to continue into next week as it takes time for airlines to recover from the weather problems alone. More than 310 US flights have already been canceled for Monday.

Cancellations were widespread for US carriers. The Big Four Saturdays: Southwest canceled 13%, Delta 10%, American and United 8%.

About a quarter of flights from Chicago O’Hare on Sunday are canceled, after 44% of flights from O’Hare were canceled on Saturday and 54% of flights were canceled from Midway.

Allegiant canceled 27% of its schedule on Saturday, or 64 flights. Spokeswoman Hilarie Gray acknowledged the weather and personnel issues of Covid-19 in a message to CNN:

“As you noted, we continue to have an unusual number of cancellations this week – some are due to extreme weather conditions, and others to other factors – including the type of unanticipated impacts of the COVID on personnel suffered by other airlines and partners in places we fly.

“The continued impact of these factors is not something we can predict, but unfortunately we anticipate additional delays and cancellations this week. Of course, when an unforeseen trip disruption occurs, customer service directly informs affected passengers and offers them to be relocated to another flight, to receive a refund, credit or other compensation.

A perfect storm

Airlines have already dealt with the Omicron variant, which brought a unprecedented peak in the cases of Covid-19, and many airline employees have been unable to work. The Federal Aviation Administration also warned more to him employees test positive, which may restrict theft.

Now, a new challenge is added to the woes of travelers: a great storm sweeps through the Rockies and the Midwest, bringing heavy ice and snow. Nearly a quarter of flights at the Kansas City International Airport were canceled on Saturday. In Detroit, airlines have canceled one in five flights.

Delta Airlines (DAL) told CNN Business it expects between 200 and 300 of its more than 4,000 daily flights to be canceled during the holidays weekend. He also recommended that people traveling to Chicago, Detroit, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and areas of the central and southern Rockies to consider changing their travel plans based on the weather.
Southwest Airlines (LCV) told CNN Business that all of his problems were due to weather conditions.

Chris Isidore of CNN Business contributed to this story.

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