Snowfall and pandemic force cancellation of flights in the world


Winter weather combined with the COVID-19 pandemic to frustrate travelers whose flights home after the end of the year holidays were canceled or delayed in the early days of 2022.

More than 2,600 flights within the United States and more than 4,400 globally were suspended as of Sunday, according to the FlightAware tracking service.

This followed the massive cancellations on Saturday of more than 2,700 flights in the United States and more than 4,700 in other countries.

“It was total chaos,” said Natasha Enos, who passed sleepless Saturday night and Sunday morning at Denver International Airport during what was supposed to be a brief layover on a cross-country ride. from Washington to San Francisco.

The number of canceled flights Saturday was the largest in the United States since shortly before Christmas, when airlines began saying the staffing shortage was due to an increase in COVID-19 infections among crews.

A winter storm that hit the north-central region on Saturday made Chicago the worst place in the country for travelers on the weekend. About a quarter of all flights at O’Hare Airport were canceled Sunday.

The Denver airport also experienced significant disruption. Enos, who was flying with Frontier Airlines, did not learn that his connecting flight to his home in California was canceled until he landed in Denver. He then found himself in a rush to find an alternate flight and manage to claim his luggage from a crowd of stranded and confused travelers, amid concerns about the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19.

“There were a lot of people in a very small space and not all of them were wearing masks,” said the 28-year-old financial analyst. “There were many exhausted children and some families were very stressed.”

In Michigan, the authority that manages Detroit International Airport said crews of workers worked around the clock to remove snow and maintain facilities. The Atlanta Airport Authority has advised travelers to arrive at the airport earlier than usual due to high passenger volumes, potential problems with bad weather, and a shortage of staff from the pandemic, all of which could prolong the time it takes. required to pass through security checks.

And thousands of miles away from the nearest snowfall, Hawaiian Airlines announced the cancellation of several inter-island and cross-Pacific flights due to staff shortages.

Southwest Airlines said it was working to help customers affected by the cancellation of some 400 flights in the country on Sunday, about 11% of its scheduled total. The Dallas-based carrier anticipates even more operational difficulties as the storm system moves toward the east coast of the country.

Delta Air Lines said Sunday that it decided to allow travelers to change free of charge on the day of their scheduled flights this week from Baltimore and Washington in light of winter weather forecasts.

For its part, American Airlines said most of its flights on Sunday had been canceled well in advance to avoid last-minute disruptions at airports.

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