Flights continue to be canceled due to covid and bad weather

The f*ckery of the last two years has us suffering from collective PTSD. Airlines are finding themselves unable to handle the increased demand due to staff shortages and bad weather. Over the Christmas break, during the biggest travel rush of the year, many travelers found themselves grounded. There were over 7,000 flights canceled Christmas weekend because of airline staff shortages. Since Christmas Eve, over 12,000 U.S. flights have been cancelled, leaving many stranded in airports for hours and not being able to return home. Worse, bad weather patterns decided to enter the chat. Below are a few more details from NBC News:

By late morning Saturday on the East Coast, more than 2,400 U.S. flights and nearly 4,200 worldwide had been canceled, according to tracking service FlightAware.

Saturday’s disruptions weren’t just due to the virus, however. Wintry weather made Chicago the worst place in the country for travelers, with 800 flights scrubbed at O’Hare Airport and more than 250 at Midway Airport. Forecasts called for nine inches of snow. Denver, Detroit and Newark, New Jersey, were hit with at least 100 cancellations each.

Southwest Airlines, which has major operations at Chicago Midway and Denver, canceled more than 450 flights nationwide, or 13% of its schedule, by midmorning. American, Delta, United and JetBlue scrubbed more than 100 flights apiece.

SkyWest, a regional carrier that operates flights under the names American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express, grounded more than 400 flights, or 21% of its schedule.

Among international carriers, China Eastern scrubbed more than 500 flights, or about one-fourth of its total, and Air China canceled more than 200 flights, one-fifth of its schedule, according to FlightAware.

Airlines say they are taking steps to reduce cancellations. United is offering to pay pilots triple or more of their usual wages for picking up open flights through mid-January. Southwest and others have also raised premium pay for some workers.

[From NBC News]

This Omarion variant is no joke. In the last three weeks my massage therapist, my aunt, my cousin’s entire household, and two of my friends who are fully vaccinated have been felled by it. Most of them contracted covid at work. The friend I hung out with last Sunday tested positive a few days later so now I have to be tested, again, for the third time in three weeks. I find it damn near comical that Omicron was said to be the mildest variant of COVID when it was first discovered. Covid has definitely exposed the cracks in our travel, medical, and economic infrastructure. Stranded travelers are just another example we can use to evaluate what we need to change in preparation for the next pandemic (because there will be one). The weather over the weekend has also been insane. I thought it was crazy that Chicago had to cancel 800 flights because of unfavorable weather patterns. It is currently 31 ° F (with very high winds) in Houston when just Saturday it was in the low 80s. So I know it was bad in Chicago.

I like that United will be paying pilots triple or more to pick up open flights but I hope that deal is being extended to flight attendants and other necessary workers. At this point, airport and airline staff should be compensated properly for being essential and having to deal with anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers. I also think these airlines need to begin hiring more staff immediately because travel has began increasing since last summer as more countries open up. The current policy of expecting current staff to take on extra flights is not sustainable. I also hope that as Omicron continues to spread that travel restrictions will increase. I feel that people should have to provide proof of vaccination and a negative Covid test before traveling. And since our government is hellbent on not shutting down for any reason, I think we all should prepare for a very long winter inside our homes until we get the spread of this variant under control.



photos credit: Atoms and Danila Hamsterman on Unsplash,

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34 Responses to “Flights continue to be canceled due to covid and bad weather”

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  1. Meime says:

    My brother works as a plane fueler. He is being forced to work almost 100 hours a week due to staffing shortages. He has lost so much weight in the past few months from exhaustion and being too busy and too tired to eat, not to mention the constant stress of worrying about the virus. It all sucks.

    • Missy says:

      Thank you for bringing this up and I’m so sorry about your brother’s stress! There are so many people involved in air travel and I agree like it’s nice and offering pilots more money but I hope it extends to all involved. Will it be covered by increased ticket prices I wonder??

      • Jais says:

        There are regulations about how many hours and days a pilot can work for good reason. I once had a flight grounded because the flight attendants had worked too many days in a row and they could not find any others to come in and work. That was before Covid.

      • Malificent says:

        I was once stuck on an Amtrak train on a mountainside between Montana and Idaho for 12 hours because a previous derailment had caused the crew’s allotted working hours to expire. They had to bring the new crew in on logging roads. (The upside was beautiful views and laid-back passengers.)

        The freight trains have the right of way, not Amtrak. So after the rails were repaired, our train had to wait for all of the freight trains to go first. I’m not sure why they didn’t just keep the train in Montana until the replacement crew arrived there…. Somebody’s math was way off.

  2. Chic says:

    Sorry.. Common sense should have made folks stay home. Had intended to travel but I work in a school, it was fine after Thanksgiving then the week after the dominoes began falling quickly.

    • BrainFog 💉💉😷 says:

      I have empathy for the flight industry personel, but not for people being stranded at airports. Guess who hasn’t had a vacation in 2 years? *raises hands*
      I get wanting to see your family for christmas and what not but guess who also didn’t get to see them this year? *raises other hand*
      From where I’m standing they fully knew the risk, medically and logistically, and decided to go for it anyway. :shrugs:

  3. Snuffles says:

    “ I also hope that as Omicron continues to spread that travel restrictions will increase. I feel that people should have to provide proof of vaccination and a negative Covid test before traveling.”

    Maybe they will now that it’s affecting their bottom line.

  4. Bettyrose says:

    Few things more terrifying than being trapped in an airport right now. They’re Petri dishes in the best of times. 😬

  5. Lady Keller says:

    I understand that some people do need to travel for work, and I understand the desire to visit loved ones if they are ill or you’vebeen away for years. But maybe for the rest of us, this isn’t the time for an effing holiday. Omicron is taking root because we insist on flying across the globe. How many people who have traveled in the last 2 years really truly needed to do so?

    • Bettyrose says:

      That was me. A very elderly grandparent who was alone for the holidays last year. I needed to travel and was very lucky I didn’t encounter cancelled flights. I double masked and took every precaution. But traveling for “fun” is an oxymoron right now. There’s nothing at all enjoyable about travel.

  6. RN says:

    Few people want to or are able to grasp just how close the healthcare system in the U.S. is to imploding because of this variant.

    • Maddiish says:

      Yeah, I think this is one of the scariest things about omicron. I work as an actuarial assistant, and my actuary works in healthcare–a few of our clients are smaller healthcare systems in the midwest & in the south. There have never been enough ICU beds–not pre-pandemic, and definitely not now. We see the workers comp claims, we see the malpractice claims (no shade on healthcare workers, those claims are inevitable and everyone makes a mistake at some point in their career). If you need to go to the ER right now, even if its not for covid, you will not receive the same standard of care as you would have in 2019. Healthcare workers are just so overwhelmed and they’re people–people make mistakes, especially exhausted, burnt-out people.

      The other thing about catastrophic incidents is that they have a very long tail, meaning it takes years to develop the big picture of how much something really costs. Soooo we really don’t have a reliable sense yet for just how much anti-vaxxers have screwed the healthcare system, those they infect, and themselves (if they recover).

    • HoofRat says:

      It’s not just the US; health care systems in some Canadian provinces are teetering on the brink of collapse. During the height of the Delta wave, one former provincial cabinet minister actually advised people to stay off the roads if at all possible because they might not get timely treatment if they were in a vehicle collision – which, I hasten to say, would in no way be the fault of front-line medical staff who have been pushed beyond their limits – and abused – for so long.

    • Giddy says:

      I know how bad things are from personal experience. On December 22 my husband woke up with severe chest pains. I called 911 but they recommended that if I could drive him to the hospital it would be faster because the ambulances were so delayed with Covid patients. So I drove him to the Heart Hospital, a very excellent specialty hospital here. We got there and the ER was so full of Covid patients that he had to be on a gurney in the hallway. The incredible staff still gave him wonderful care, bringing IV stands, heart monitors, etc. to his area of a hall. It was determined that he had definitely had a heart attack and needed to be admitted to the hospital, but there were no beds there. We got lucky because a bed opened on a cardiac floor of another hospital, so he was transferred there and had surgery the next morning. I don’t know what would have happened if that bed hadn’t opened, but I completely resent the non-vaccinated idiots who have put such a strain on our healthcare system.

  7. BBG says:

    I work a hotel front desk in a busy US island tourist destination that has been slammed going on 2 years now, as many people are reluctant to travel out of the country. This past week has been a s–tstorm of panic, anger and complaints about cancelled flights, not being able to get into restaurants or on boat excursions due to overbooking, and slow service due to understaffing and illness. Now that people are flooding in from all over the country, the workers are dropping like flies–3 have COVID just at my small property. Hey, here’s a novel idea–stay the hell home for awhile

  8. ElleE says:

    Another crack exposed: historically underpaid jobs.

    Airports and offices need people to clean and keep the lights on. If the choice is to use your cousin’s car and drive for door dash w/minimal risk of infection OR get paid $12/hr, $64/day (before taxes!) to do hotel laundry or $11/hr to wash dishes, what would you choose to do?

    If I was a cleaner right now, I wouldn’t leave the house for less than $25 an hour because I am white, documented and privileged. The phone will ring eventually. Why not give these people their due? Your business gets to stay open, right? Any hotel chain that needs good press should do this now and give us a reason to stay with you when we do travel.

    Industries with a business model that rely on underpaying workers (like restaurants in the US) and can’t be profitable without doing so? I don’t know how they are going to get through this and I do feel for them.

    • Gubbinal says:


    • Twin falls says:

      And the cost of childcare. In house childcare is astronomical and around here smaller preschools keep closing. My kids are school age but lots of working women (it’s never the dads pleading for help with childcare it just isn’t) are struggling with this right now.

  9. Justme says:

    We’re not going to get this variant under control. It will probably burn itself out as it did in South Africa. It doesn’t care if you are triple vaxxed (I am so I’m not against vaccinations) or masked or socially distanced. It’s very contagious – I think I may have had it over Christmas but I couldn’t get a test and I sure as heck wasn’t going to stand in line to find out. If I did have it it was very mild – just a scratchy throat and a few body aches. All gone now. And everyone I know who has had omicron has similar tales. I don’t think there is much more we can do except hunker down and try to protect the elderly and Immunocompromised. And give up the illusion of control. We don’t have control over a microscopic virus.

  10. DaphneOG says:

    I have a trip to NYC scheduled for Jan 12 to see friends and family I haven’t seen in 2.5 years. There is a mental cost to me being isolated living alone and away from loved ones for this long. But I don’t want to be part of the problem overwhelming our hospital system. I am vaccinated/boosted. Not sure what to do in terms of cancelling.

    • BK says:

      Mask up in public places and wash your hands, but enjoy your friends and family. So many who are self righteous about covid/traveling do not understand what it’s truly like to live and be alone the last 2 years. Isolating with your spouse and kids is not the same as being isolated alone. It’s mentally taxing. Btw i’m fully vaxxed and just had Omicron, and know tons of people who just had/have it. It’s very mild and I’ve been way sicker in my life many times. I don’t think we can go on forever avoiding other people because Covid is never going away just like the flu never went away

      • DaphneOG says:

        Thank you, BK. That is what I am leaning towards. At this point I would trade places with anyone who has a family to not be isolated longer. I think single people who live alone will have lasting impacts for years to come.

    • Surly Gale says:

      at this stage of the game, I’d say go be with your family. I live alone. My son checks in on me monthly, but otherwise, I can go days w/o any human touch/contact. If it weren’t for the dogs….I honestly don’t think I would have made it even this far. Family first, always family first. If your family is healthy and you are healthy, I say go be with your family. And give them a hug from all of us that are alone, eh ~


    I don’t know if I’m lucky or not at this point. Fully vaxxed, mask up. I have not gotten Omicron but I do go to the pharmacy and grocery store (privileged to work from home) and considering getting scripts and groceries delivered. I know Omicron is crazy contagious, but I can’t help but feel that some people aren’t being as careful as they claim to be.

    • Justme says:

      I know a lot of people who are very very careful and got it. It’s just luck really. You could run into it anywhere (and unless you are wearing an N95 properly fitting mask, your mask won’t help much if at all). It’s not a moral failure to catch it after all. It’s a virus. It wants to get caught!

  12. Gubbinal says:

    We (I am in the US) need a serious wealth tax the proceeds of which will go to increase the income and hence the motivation of workers. Why become a health care aide or a nurse when you see that the bottom line is so low relative to that of Bezos and Musk.

    Many people are realizing that they are serfs under the kleptocratic code of billionaires.
    There is enough money to value the essential workers–the cooks, the drivers, the health care aides, the janitors by giving them a healthy robust income. It won’t cost us readers a penny unless we have a billion dollars.

  13. salmonpuff says:

    I feel like we’re going to be reading a post like this about schools pretty soon. My 16-year-old went back today and has already been notified she was a close contact of someone who tested positive. I feel for the airline employees dealing with this and covering shifts and stressing about their health. Why are we doing this to ourselves??? There are better ways of handling this than tossing low paid workers at the virus like sacrificial lambs. 🙁

    • vociferousgirl says:

      My sister is a teacher; the 22nd they had NINE classes out due to exposure.

      • salmonpuff says:

        My husband is a teacher, too. He’s so stressed. I wish your sister the best…the next few weeks might be rough.

  14. AmelieOriginal says:

    I get a text a day from people telling me they have covid—no one I have had close contact with, all people I know from out of state. We were able to get together safely for Christmas and I saw very limited people during my week off between Xmas and New Year’s. But if you travel somewhere on a plane, you are probably going to get it. My sister is dating a guy who went to Turks and Caicos for Xmas, tested negative before going there and before his return flight to the US. He took a rapid test before seeing my sister after he came back as they were to spend New Year’s together and it was positive (his two rapid tests were positive and his PCR came back negative but his sister who he also traveled with also tested positive on her rapid test so he probably has it even if he’s asymptomatic).

    I’m also cat sitting for someone who went to Europe to see her family over the holidays. She let me know her father and sister tested positive and she felt fine (but she 100% has it) but wasn’t sure how that would affect her travel plans. So yeah if you get on a plane, you are going to be exposed and don’t be surprised if you end up getting it.

    • Andrea says:

      Everyday I wake up thinking who has covid today. My best friend’s daughter just tested positive on an at home test last night and couldn’t go back to school today. He sent the son back who tested negative, but I can’t help but think it maybe hasnt set in yet and he might start his own outbreak in school. 7 people got infected from a 20 person christmas eve dinner with another friend. In Canada, I spent christmas with 1 person. I maybe have been in Canada too long now or for this panedemic, but I cant understand why people are acting like they won’t get it and are surprised when they do. I think Canadians are just much more cautious up here in general from my experience.

  15. vociferousgirl says:

    I flew United (Ord to BOS on the 22, then (Bos to ORD last Wednesday). On the first leg, people were arguing with the gate agents that they didn’t need a test (which was comical). On the leg back, one international (and non English speaking traveler) showed up with a positive test. That he didn’t know was positive, because he couldn’t speak English. He found out he was positive from that gate agent via google translate.

    It’s like people don’t get the seriousness of it, still.

    Then, as I was waiting for my flight, the gate agent announced the flight next to me couldn’t take off because they had “lost” on of their flight attendants, and had to “borrow” one from another flight. What a mess indeed.