Omicron crew knockouts continue to wreak havoc on vacation flights

It’s a good thing that Santa Claus has his own flight crew.

Travelers around the world faced a vacation full of delays and flight cancellations on Saturday as airlines continue to scramble planes and readjust schedules due to crew shortages caused by COVID.

As travelers tried to get home for the holidays, social media was teeming with references to Steve Martin’s 1987 comedy “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” – but few laughed.

A Twitter user shared his attempts to get from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to his family in Wisconsin, including potentially taking a bus to Milwaukee.

“But first, I need my checked baggage” she posted.

The woman was sent to the O’Hare baggage claim area, where she was warned that she may have to wait up to two hours to collect her bags. Meanwhile, her family decided to travel to Chicago to pick her up on their own.

Major airlines have canceled hundreds of flights due to staff shortages largely related to the Omicron variant.
AP Photo / David Zalubowski

The baggage claim “only 90 minutes,” she posted later, noting that her bags were on a different carousel than the one she was directed to. “But thanks to @united for that shitty show.”

“It’s just unacceptable” another woman tweeted. “Looks like you are totally okay with messing up people’s vacation plans because you’re not offering anything to make up for the horrible service other than the ‘rebooking’ on the s —— r flight, just to cancel again and leave people stranded. Just go shut up. Thank you!”

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As of 10 a.m. on Saturday, 874 US flights were canceled, bringing the global total to over 2,500. At least 659 US flights were delayed, of more than 4,275 worldwide. according to the FlightAware tracking site.

About five new canceled flights were added every half hour.

Travel to Christmas airport.  Friday, December 24, 2021
Winter conditions in parts of the country compounded the delays.
Paul Martinka for NY Post

The tangled travel scene was made worse by the fallout from canceled Christmas Eve flights. By the end of Friday, more than 2,000 flights had been cleaned up around the world, Reuters reported, including nearly 450 in the United States.

United alone had around 230 canceled flights on Christmas Day, spokeswoman Maddie King said in an email to The Post. King reiterated a statement the carrier has shared repeatedly over the past few days, explaining that “the nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people leading our operation.”

At this time of year, the airline averages about 4,000 flights a day, she added, saying those canceled “represent a small portion of those flights.”

Cancellation of United Airlines flights to Chicago O'Hare and Cleveland on the flight information display system at San Francisco International Airport on Christmas Eve in San Francisco, California, United States December 24, 2021.
About five new canceled flights were added every half hour.

Many netizens blamed the delays on airlines for putting on leave or sacking employees who refused to be vaccinated. United canned more than 200 of those workers in October.

A spokeswoman for Delta Airlines said on Friday that about 158 ​​flights on its 3,100 flight program had been canceled. Without providing details, she added that “more than 150 cancellations are expected on Saturday and Sunday”.

Winter conditions in the northeast and northwest compounded the delays, she said.

JetBlue spokesperson Derek Dombrowski said in an email.

Travel to Christmas airport.  Friday, December 24, 2021
Hundreds of flights have been canceled between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Paul Martinka for NY Post

“The people at Delta are working around the clock to redirect and replace planes and crews to get customers where they need to be as quickly and safely as possible,” spokeswoman Kate Modolo said in a statement. E-mail.

JetBlue spokesperson Derek Dombrowski said in an email that the New York-based airline “has entered the holiday season with the highest staffing levels we have had since the start of the season. pandemic and used all the resources at our disposal to cover our personnel needs “.

The airline nevertheless had to cancel a number of flights due to the spread of Omicron, he said, but did not provide details on the number of aborted trips or delays.

American Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment.