Airport Crisis Continues Into The New Year As Cancellations Hit New Peak

Across the United States, increasingly extensive flight cancellations have allowed the “Christmas flightmare” seen by many passengers to extend past the Christmas season and into the new year.

As reported by FlightAware, roughly 3,300 flights across the world have been outright canceled on Sunday, with almost 4,400 flights around the world being taken down on Saturday. Of these reported flights, over 2,500 of them were within the U.S. on Saturday, and roughly 1,910 of them were in the U.S. on Sunday.

Of the hardest hit was Chicago O’Hare International Airport that reported over 256 canceled flights which equates out to roughly 25% of their entire flight schedule. along with this, Newark International Airport and Denver International Airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, New York’s JFK and Boston’s Logan International Airport have also had to deal with a large number of cancellations on their schedule.

As was seen over the Christmas season, multiple airlines have been having a hard time dealing with staffing issues stemming from the spread of COVID-19, which combined with bad weather across the United States has led to a perfect storm of problems. Since Christmas eve, well over 12,000 flights have been called off across the United States Alone.

“Today’s cancellations are driven by Omicron staffing and weather-related issues. We did pre-cancel flights in anticipation of inclement weather. We’ve been contacting passengers early if their flights are cancelled to give them time to rebook or make other plans,” released United Airlines in a public statement.

On Saturday, Allegiant alone was forced to cancel over 27% of its flights as Hilarie Grey, their spokeswoman, released a statement blaming the weather and COVID-19 staffing issues.

“As you’ve noted, we continue to have an unusual number of cancellations this week — some have been due to severe weather, and some due to other factors — including the type of unanticipated staff impacts from COVID experienced by other airlines and partners in places where we fly,” stated Grey to CNN. “The ongoing impact of these factors is not something we can predict, but we do anticipate additional delays and cancellations this week, unfortunately. Of course when an unanticipated disruption to travel occurs, customer care notifies the affected passengers directly and relays options to be re-accommodated to another flight, receive a refund, credit or other compensation.”

It was reported by CNBC that United Airlines has stated that it will be heavily increasing the compensation for any pilots who pick up extra trips:

United and the pilots union, the Air Line Pilots Association, reached an agreement for higher pay to cover open trips, Bryan Quigley, United’s senior vice president of flight operations said Friday in a staff note, which was seen by CNBC.

Pilots will be offered three-and-a-half times their pay for flying open trips between Dec. 30 and Jan. 3 and triple pay for picking up trips between Jan. 4 and Jan. 29, the note said.

Along the same lines, Spirit Airlines has stated that they will be seeking to double the pay for all flight attendants, as reported by CNN Business:

Spirit Airlines flight attendants are receiving double pay on any work through January 4, their union said, as the budget carrier scrambles to keep its schedules intact after U.S. airlines were hammered by a week of mass cancellations…

“All flight attendants, regardless of how you have obtained your pairing, will be receiving 200% pay for any pairing that touches Dec. 28 through Jan. 4,” the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA said in a statement. The union represented about 4,000 flights attendants at Spirit Airlines, according to the carrier’s latest annual filing.

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