Holiday Travelers Spend a Mournful Christmas Alone Due to Flight Cancellations

by Clayton Edwards

In the fall, airlines were already having problems dealing with travel demands. Back then, travel rates were approaching pre-pandemic levels. Shortages in staff and supplies led to hundreds of canceled flights between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Now, the travel demand is higher than it was in 2019 and airlines are scrambling to get passengers where they need to be. For many travelers, flight cancellations ruined their Christmas plans.

Many major airlines pushed senior employees into early retirement or laid workers off early in the pandemic. They hoped to be able to hire enough staff to keep things running once things went back to normal. This didn’t happen. Airlines that did find enough employees to keep passengers moving are now dealing with a new obstacle. The omicron variant of COVID is running rampant through the commercial aviation industry. For airlines, this means several employees are out on 10-day quarantines. For Christmas travelers, it means flight delays and cancellations.

Stories of Christmas Flight Cancellations

USA Today shared the stories of a few travelers who had their Christmas hopes dashed due to flight cancellations and delays. For instance, Rohit Tejwani hoped to be at his parents’ house on Christmas morning. It looked like he would make it, too. That is until he learned, while in the air, that his next flight was canceled. Instead of being in Seattle with his parents, Tejwani spent the night alone in Utah.

This flight cancellation hit Tejwani hard because this was no normal Christmas for his family. For one, this was the first time he has had the holiday off in four years. On top of that, his mother just completed cancer treatment. They planned a reunion and celebration for the holiday. They got frustration and loneliness. “There’s just no real good way to get that time back with people’s families, especially around a holiday like this,” he told the outlet while voicing his frustration.

Tanika Smith-Brooks assumed that her short flight from Florida to North Carolina would be fine. She even found a flight that allowed her to bring her dogs aboard. Smith-Brooks was all set to spend Christmas with her grandmother, the woman who raised her after her mother passed away, but a flight cancellation ruined that plan. Smith-Brooks found it impossible to get a new flight that would allow her to bring her furry friends in the cabin with her.

“It’s not just another day,” the frustrated traveler told USA Today. “The most important part of Christmas is being with your family… I just want to hug my grandparents.”

Flight cancelations were in the hundreds over Christmas Eve and Christmas. Airlines project hundreds more over the rest of the holiday weekend. In short, it is a horrible time to fly.