Traveling during the holiday season has always been stressful. But it’s been especially so this year thanks to all of the recent flights canceled.
In total, there have been more than 5,000 flights in the United States that have been delayed. And, in addition to that, more than 1,000 canceled since last week. Those delays and cancellations have left travelers scrambling as they try to make it home for the holidays. That’s something that Dennis Tajer, American Airlines pilot and spokesperson for their pilot’s union, Allied Pilots Association, takes seriously.
“We look at flights but see, the thing is they’re connected to people,” he told USA Today. “For each one of those passengers, there may be five to 10 family members and friends that were counting on them being at the holiday table.”
Winter Weather Plus COVID Will Lead to More Flights Canceled
Like we mentioned above, traveling during the winter always adds an extra layer of stress. But this year has been even more stressful thanks to the surge in COVID cases among staff and passengers. As a matter of fact, there have been nearly two million new cases of COVID in the past week alone. Henry Harteveldt is an independent travel industry analyst and president of Atmosphere Research Group. He explained how the Omicron variant is presenting a serious dilemma to the airline industry.
“It’s tough enough to travel in the winter just because of bad weather. But COVID and the omicron variant are introducing new wrinkles that none of us had anticipated. Airlines have only so many of those standby crew members available,” he said.
There’s no doubt that travelers have already had to endure a lot so far this holiday season. Harteveldt expects more of the same going forward.
“If you’re traveling within the next week, chances are it’s still going to be a very, very uneven, perhaps even chaotic operating environment for airlines,” Harteveldt said. “My hope is that within the next week, because of the new guidelines posted by the CDC that say employees who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic can return to work if they feel well enough to do so, we will start to see the number of cancelations go down.”
How to Prepare for Flight Delay or Cancelation
By the sounds of everything, you will definitely want to be on top of things if you are forced to fly in the coming days, weeks, and months. Harteveldt says you should prepare for such disruptions in case they happen.
“If a flight is delayed at the beginning of the day, depending on how much time an airline has scheduled between the time the plane arrives at its destination and departs again on its next journey and how long the delay is, that first delay can cascade through the rest of the day. And it’s not like airlines can wave a magic wand and have Boeing or Airbus magically deliver another airplane.”
You can even sign up for text or email notifications from airlines. They can inform you of delays and cancellations should they take place.