Christmas Eve Travel Doubles from 2020 Numbers Despite Omicron Fears

by Victoria Santiago

Christmas Eve travel has officially bounced back from the pandemic low last year, even as officials warn about the omicron variant. Over 1.7 million passed through TSA checkpoints on Christmas Eve. Even though that’s a steep jump from 2020 numbers, it’s still lower than the number of holiday travelers in 2019.

In 2020, a total of 846,520 people were screened by the TSA on Christmas Eve. This year’s numbers still fall about 800,000 short of 2019 numbers, though. However, almost 2.2 million people flew on December 23rd, which is more than the number of travelers on that same day in 2019 – 1.9 million. Otherwise, we have still not met 2019 air travel numbers.

We’re topping 2020 numbers easily, though, and that means that Americans are traveling to see family despite a new coronavirus variant. State and local officials have been trying to warn people about the coronavirus omicron variant, but it seems that many aren’t listening. Officials have advised to not get together for the holidays because of the virus. In a Christmas statement, the Milwaukee Health Department said, “With the holiday season quickly approaching, many people are planning to gather with loved ones to celebrate. The Milwaukee Health Department urges those who are gathering to do so safely. This means gathering with only fully vaccinated friends and family.”

This new variant might not be stopping people from seeing their families, but it is causing a lot of flights to get canceled. Delta and United Airlines have canceled flights throughout the country. They’re trying to adjust to having more COVID cases and fewer staff.

Delta and United Airlines Criticized for Omicron Cancellations

Yesterday, United Airlines canceled around 120 flights nationwide. Delta did the same and canceled around 90 flights. Flight cancellations are never fun, especially around the holidays. The cancellations left people stranded at the airport. Both Delta and United Airlines released statements regarding the canceled flights. They essentially said that they had tried every other option available. Canceling was the only thing they could do, according to the statements.

People are not happy about the canceled flights. Over 3,000 flights have been canceled worldwide. United Airlines and Delta have canceled a lot of flights, but other air companies have, too. JetBlue has canceled over 50 flights.

No one wants to be stuck at the airport on Christmas. If you do get stuck at the airport, remember to breathe. Travel insurance can help cover costs, and keep your stress levels down. Try to not check your luggage. Rebook as quickly as you can, and be flexible and kind with the staff. They want to be with their families for the holidays, too. Happy traveling.