United Airlines and Delta Air Lines on Thursday said they had each canceled many Christmas Eve flights, as the spreading COVID-19 omicron variant negatively affects its flight groups and different workers. Something like two significant airlines in the United States has canceled flights just before Christmas Eve. Both United and Delta said a spike in omicron infections among crew members played a part in the cancellations.
On Thursday, United Airlines (UAL) said it needed to “cancel some flights” due to the Omicron variant of the Covid. Chicago-based United canceled 120 flights for Friday, while Atlanta-based Delta said it has canceled around 90. Both said they were attempting to contact travelers so they would not be abandoned at airports.
Omicron is ending up being a Grinch this holiday season, with the fast-spreading Covid variant making a few flights be canceled this Christmas.
As of 9:20 p.m. ET, Delta Air Lines has canceled 84 flights on Christmas Day while United Airlines has canceled 28. More flights have been canceled on Christmas Eve: 136 from United and 91 from Delta, as indicated by flight tracker FlightAware.
“The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation,” said a United memo.
United has canceled more than 100 Friday flights, as per flight tracking site FlightAware.
United said it is “notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport,” as indicated by an organization statement. “We’re sorry for the disruption and are working hard to rebook as many people as possible and get them on their way for the holidays.”
Later Thursday night, Delta Air Lines (DAL) likewise canceled flights. The airline canceled 93 Christmas Eve flights, as indicated by FlightAware. That is 4% of its total schedule.
Delta said the cancellations are because of numerous issues including the Omicron variant.
“We apologize to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans,” Delta said in a statement. “Delta people are working hard to get them to where they need to be as quickly and as safely as possible on the next available flight.”
The cancellations come as some airline industry leaders ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update its guidance on how long completely vaccinated individuals with a breakthrough infection should self-isolate.
Current CDC guidance says 10 days, however, JetBlue, Delta, and airline industry trade group Airlines for America (A4A) have each sent letters requesting a decreased isolation period. Delta and A4A are pushing for five days with a negative test.
“The Omicron surge may exacerbate personnel shortages and create significant disruptions to our workforce and operations,” A4A CEO Nick Calio wrote in a Thursday letter to the CDC. “Much has changed since the initial guidance was developed and issued in 2020 and we believe that variables such as vaccine rates, improved treatments, and mask mandates should be considered as the pandemic and science continue to evolve.”
Not all agree. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents about 50,000 flight attendants at 17 airlines, kept in touch with the CDC to voice support for the 10-day isolation period.
“We recognize that how long a person should isolate is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ number of days. We also note that fully vaccinated people may be less infectious for less time than unvaccinated people. Still, we consider your current 10-day recommendation to represent a prudent middle ground,” reads a Thursday letter signed by AFA International President Sara Nelson. “We do not see the justification for reducing the number of days at this time.”