Medical Technology

Omicron Wreaks Havoc on Holiday Travel

The Omicron variant continues to exert its influence on holiday travel. Many flights were cancelled worldwide during one of the busiest travel seasons.

More than 2,300 flights were cancelled Monday as COVID-19-related cases surged all over the world. In all more than 800, there was at least one stop in the U.S. Another 3,000 flights were delayed, according to CNN.

Globally, more than 6,000 flights were cancelled during Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after Christmas. More than 1,200 flights were cancelled in the United States, and more than 5,000 flights were delayed Sunday.

Sunday saw about 12 percent of JetBlue flights cancelled. Also there were 6% of Delta Air Lines flights were cancelled, five percent of United Airlines flight cancellations, 2% of American Airlines flight cancellations, and 1% of Southwest Airlines flight cancellations.

The airlines cited the cold winter weather and staffing concerns due to the Omicron variant as reported to The New York Times . JetBlue started the holiday season with its highest levels of staff since the beginning of the pandemic an official told the newspaper, but the airline has “seen an increase in sick calls from Omicron.”

United spokeswoman also mentioned “crew staffing issues,” while Delta spokeswoman mentioned Omicron variants and winter weather. Southwest spokesperson said that the cancellations of 68 were caused by winter weather.

Airlines for America requested that the CDC reduce the recommended isolation time for employees who are fully vaccine-vaccinated and have been diagnosed with a new illness just two days before Christmas. The trade group representing airlines suggested that five days be the most effective amount of isolation, instead of 10 days.

“This workforce is vital to allow Americans who require travel domestically and internationally, and to keep their supply chain for cargo operational,” the group wrote in.

However, unions representing flight attendants have said that recommended isolation times should be governed by “public health professionals, not airlines,” the Times reported.

Many passengers are expected to fly with airlines around the New Year’s holiday and Jan. 2 as holiday travelers return home. Experts will be monitoring the numbers as Omicron cases rise in the U.S.A and across the globe.

“Swift and safe adjustments by the CDC would alleviate at least some of the staffing pressures and create airlines to assist millions of travelers who are returning from vacation,” Derek Dombrowski, a JetBlue spokesperson told the newspaper.


CNN: “Travel nightmare: Another 2,000 flights canceled Monday.”

The New York Times The New York Times “Thousands of flights canceled as Omicron scrambles airline travel.”

Airlines for America: Letter to the CDC, Dec. 23 2021.

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