Air travelers across the US have reportedly been facing a messy end to their holidays as return flights were canceled or delayed, primarily owing to cold weather and the pandemic, in the first days of the new year.
As per FlightAware, a flight tracking company, January 1st saw mass cancellations with over 4,700 flights being grounded worldwide, including 2,700 in the U.S., followed by more than 4,100 flights grounded worldwide, with 2,500 in the U.S., on January 2nd.
Saturday’s toll of canceled flights was recorded to be the highest since before Christmas, with airlines having blamed staff shortages as cases of COVID-19 infections increased among their crews.
On the other hand, a winter storm that hit the Midwest on Saturday, making Chicago the worst place for travelers for the weekend, resulted in a quarter of the scheduled flights being canceled at the O’Hare Airport.
Meanwhile, Denver International Airport also faced several disruptions as many had their connecting flights canceled, causing passengers to rush around and find alternate flights and also navigate through the hassle of baggage claims.
Atlanta’s airport authority also issued an advise to travelers to arrive back home earlier as the time to get through security gates would take longer because of higher passenger volume and staff shortage due to the pandemic and the potential weather problems.
Hawaiian Airlines also had to cancel many of its flights across the Pacific, and between islands, because of staff shortage.
SkyWest, a regional carrier, had to ground 20% of its scheduled flights, affecting 500 take-offs on Sunday, while Southwest Airlines had to cancel 11% of its scheduled flights, affecting travelers of about 400 flights, expecting more operational issues as the storm system moves further to the Eastern seaboard.
Delta Air Lines has issued a travel waiver for flights scheduled this week in preparation for the forecasted weather, while American Airlines had canceled many of its Sunday flights beforehand to prevent disruptions at the airport.
Many airlines have stated that steps are being taken to prevent cancellations caused by staff shortage, offering double and triple pay to cabin crews and pilots to get through the holiday rush which lasts till mid-January.