More Flights Canceled Leaving Travelers Stranded Day After Christmas

by Leanne Stahulak

More than 680 flights have already been canceled today for various airlines across the country. Leaving more Christmas travelers stranded in their respective airports.

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has ravaged airlines employees. And it’s created massive staffing shortages during the busiest time of the year. Airlines including Delta, JetBlue, United, and American Airlines have canceled hundreds of flights already this Christmas weekend. They also released statements attributing to the Omicron variant.

According to FlightAware, a flight-tracking website, airlines canceled almost 1,000 flights on Christmas Day alone. These included trips within the country or international flights containing a leg in the U.S.

As of 10:30 a.m. EST on Sunday, the day after Christmas, 683 flights have been canceled in the U.S. Another 53 have been canceled for Monday and Tuesday. According to The New York Post, Delta, United, and JetBlue have each canceled over 10% of their flights for Christmas weekend.

Frustrated travelers struggle to find new flights home or make connections during long trips. But the airlines have expressed that there’s little they can do, what with the mandatory self-isolation period for COVID-infected employees. Employees must isolate for 10 days, though airlines including Delta have petitioned the CDC to reduce it.

Airlines Speak Out on Christmas Weekend Flights Canceled

Even before the Christmas weekend, several airlines predicted flight cancellations and worked to notify their passengers immediately. On Thursday, Delta Airlines told PEOPLE that they had explored every option to make up for the canceled flights.

“Delta teams have exhausted all options and resources — including rerouting and substitutions of aircraft and crews to cover scheduled flying — before canceling around 90 flights for Friday,” Delta said in a statement Thursday. “We apologize to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans. Delta people are working hard to get them to where they need to be as quickly and as safely as possible on the next available flight.”

Since Thursday, Delta has canceled more than 550 flights. United, on the other hand, has canceled more than 500. In a recent statement, the airline directly referenced the Omicron variant as a cause for staffing shortages and canceled flights.

“The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation,” United said. “As a result, we’ve unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport.

The airline added, “We’re sorry for the disruption and are working hard to rebook as many people as possible and get them on their way for the holidays.”

Trying to get home after traveling this Christmas weekend? Check out these tips for what to do when an airline cancels your flight last minute.