The epidemic, along with a winter storm coming into the mid-Atlantic, has continued to frustrate air travelers whose return flights from the holidays were canceled or delayed in the first few days of the new year.
According to flight tracking website FlightAware, more than 1,900 US aircraft and more than 3,300 globally were stopped as of early Monday.
This follows the cancellation of over 2,600 flights in the United States and over 4,400 internationally on Sunday. On Saturday, over 2,700 flights in the United States were canceled, with over 4,700 globally.
Through Monday afternoon, a winter storm is forecast to dump up to 10 inches (25 cm) of snow on the District of Columbia, northern Virginia, and central Maryland.
The cancellations, along with more than 5,000 airline delays on Monday, have added to the frustrations of holiday travelers attempting to go home over the weekend.
“It was absolute mayhem,” said Natasha Enos, who spent a restless Saturday night and Sunday morning at Denver International Airport during a cross-country flight from Washington to San Francisco.
The number of planes grounded in the United States on Saturday was the biggest since shortly before Christmas, when airlines began blaming rising Covid-19 infections among personnel on staffing shortages.
Due to a winter storm that slammed the Midwest on Saturday, Chicago was the worst spot in the country for weekend travelers. On Sunday, over a quarter of all flights at O’Hare Airport were canceled.
The airport in Denver was also severely impacted. Enos, who was travelling on Frontier Airlines, didn’t find out until she was already in Denver that her connecting flight back to California had been canceled. Then came a mad scramble to locate alternate flights and get through baggage claims clogged with stranded and befuddled passengers, amid fears of the highly transmissible omicron strain of Covid-19 spreading.
The 28-year-old finance analyst explained, “It was a lot of people in a small space, and not everyone was masking.” “There were a lot of tired kids and a lot of stressed-out families.”
Crews were working around the clock to clear snow and maintain the airfield at Detroit International Airport in Michigan, according to the body that manages the airport. The Atlanta airport authorities recommended travelers to come earlier than normal because to high passenger volumes, probable weather concerns, and pandemic-related personnel shortages that might cause delays at security gates.
Hawaiian Airlines claimed it had to cancel multiple flights between islands and across the Pacific owing to personnel shortages thousands of miles away from the nearest snowstorms.
Southwest Airlines said it was trying to assist passengers affected by the cancellation of nearly 400 flights throughout the country on Sunday, accounting for about 11% of the airline’s schedule. As the storm system approaches the Eastern seaboard, the Dallas-based airline expects even more operational issues.
Delta Air Lines said on Sunday that it was granting a travel waiver for flights scheduled this week out of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., due to predicted winter weather.
The majority of Sunday’s cancelled flights, according to American Airlines, were cancelled ahead of time to minimize last-minute airport difficulties.