Travelers hoping to fly out Tuesday faced another rude awakening.
More than 1,500 U.S. flights were canceled and more than 4,800 were delayed as of 7:10 p.m. ET, according to flight tracker FlightAware.
Southwest has the highest number of cancellations among U.S.-based carriers with more than 400, representing 13% of the airline’s scheduled flights.
“Following the winter weather that moved across the country this week, operational planners at Southwest are working to get our aircraft and crews back in place to support a more normal operation,” the airline said in a statement to USA TODAY. “We appreciate the patience and support from our customers as the Southwest team works diligently and safely to get customers to their destinations as soon as possible.”
Utah-based SkyWest has the next highest cancellations with 200, representing 9% of its scheduled flights. Third highest among domestic carriers is JetBlue with 105 canceled flights, 10% of its flights for the day.
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JetBlue cancellations are to be expected, as the airline announced last week that it was proactively canceling nearly 1,300 through mid-January to give customers time to plan as they grapple with COVID-related staffing shortages.
Delta, United and American also struggled with sick calls and winter weather over the holidays. They’re seeing between 1% to 3% of their flights canceled Tuesday.
Independent travel industry analyst Robert Mann expected staffing options to improve as airlines began new reserve pools for standby employees at the start of each month, but he warned that COVID could continue to be a wild card.
“Over time, there will be an impact of the new case rate continuing into January and until the omicron variant runs its course,” said the president of R.W. Mann and former airline executive for airlines like American and TWA. “Of course, nobody knows when that’s going to be.”
Travelers should check their flight status before heading to the airport and know that airlines are required to offer refunds if their flights get canceled for any reason, per Department of Transportation rules.
More than 20,000 flights within, to and from the U.S. have been canceled since Christmas Eve.
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort