2,500 U.S. Flights Grounded Sunday Due to Winter Storms and Staffing Shortages

by Victoria Santiago
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Winter weather and staffing issues have caused more problems for holiday fliers. Just today (1/2), 2,500 U.S. flights have been grounded. Worldwide, over 4,000 flights have been canceled. These cancellations have been tracked by a tracking service called FlightAware.

Today’s numbers are almost on par with yesterday’s large amount of grounded flights. Yesterday there were 2,700 canceled U.S. flights and 4,700 canceled flights worldwide. In fact, yesterday’s mass cancellation had the highest amount of flights since before Christmas. Airlines have been blaming staffing shortages and COVID-19 for all of the delays and canceled flights. Of course, the weather also plays a part. It seems that most major airports were having weather issues or staffing issues. Some airports were, unfortunately, dealing with both.

Flight Delays By State

Almost a quarter of all flights leaving O’Hare Airport were grounded over the weekend. This was due to a winter storm that hit the midwest on Saturday. Airports in Colorado and Michigan also suffered over the weekend. In Denver, most flights were canceled last minute. The airport was crowded with confused passengers that had only recently found out that their flights weren’t taking off. For example, one traveler didn’t even know that her connecting flight back home was grounded until she had already landed in Denver. In addition to getting home, some people were also worried about the newest strain of COVID-19. “It was a lot of people in a very small space and not everybody was masking,” said one passenger.

Crews at Detroit International Airport were working around the clock to remove snow from the airfield. The Atlanta airport authority warned people to be prepared for any delays that might happen. Travelers were told to arrive early to account for any issues that might make it harder to get through security gates. Weather issues, staffing shortages, and a large number of fliers were all expected to cause issues for Atlanta travelers. Airports in Hawaii thankfully didn’t deal with any bad weather, but they still experienced cancellations. Staffing shortages caused Hawaiian airlines to cancel flights between the islands and across the Pacific.

Airlines Work to Amend Cancellations

Southwest Airlines said that they were working on helping customers displaced by the cancellations. Southwest canceled around 400 flights or 11% of their flight schedule. They’re expecting more issues as winter weather rolls into some states. To prepare for this weather, Delta Airlines said that they’re issuing travel waivers for flights this week. However, this is only for Baltimore and Washington. Thankfully, American Airlines is canceling what they need to ahead of time. They’re doing this to avoid last-minute issues in airports. (Airlines operating in Denver should take note.)

Overall, airlines are hoping that travel will fall off soon. It’s always busy around the holidays, but airlines are not prepared due to the weather and lack of workers. Flexible schedules and higher pay are currently being offered to airline workers. Hopefully, this will tide employees over until the holiday rush stops.

Outsider.com