CLEVELAND — The holiday weekend started with a snag for many United and Delta passengers on Friday as both airlines were forced to cancel dozens of flights because of staffing shortages brought on by the pandemic and the omicron variant. Although the canceled flights represent a small percentage of total flights nationwide, they created headaches and significant delays for affected passengers.
United, Delta and Alaskan Airlines collectively canceled more than 300 flights on Christmas Eve because of staffing shortages. Additionally, Delta expects to cancel another 350 flights through Sunday.
“The nationwide spike in omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation,” Delta Airlines said in a statement statement.“As a result, we’ve unfortunately had to cancel some flights."
The airline later said that delays are anticipated to continue into the weekend.
“Cancellations and potential delays are expected to continue throughout the weekend. Up to 200 of 3,004 flights on Saturday may be canceled, and up to 150 are expected for Sunday’s flight schedule,” the airline said in a statement.
Julie Beilfuss was making her way through security when she was notified that her 10 a.m. flight on Friday morning was canceled.
“Delta has actually been very, very good about it. They’re all nice people. I know it’s not their fault that all of this is going on,” Beilfuss said. “They re-booked me on a flight late this afternoon to get me on a flight to Atlanta that I may be able to get back to Kansas City at midnight. I was going home to see my parents.”
Beilfuss’ delay meant that she would have to remain at the airport for the rest of the morning and well into the afternoon before flying to Atlanta.
“The plan was to be there for Christmas Eve with the folks and dinner and all those kinds of things,” Beilfuss said. “It happens though. It’s not something that is in everyone’s control. Have patience. Have patience. It happens. The airlines are good about trying to figure out how to help everyone.”