A combination of winter weather and the surge of the Omicron COVID-19 variant has disrupted thousands of flights in the US for three days in a row since December 24, 2021.
Over 1,500 flights within, into or out of the United States have been canceled on December 26, 2021 alone, according to flight tracker site FlightAware. At least 2,000 flights were canceled worldwide on Christmas Day, including roughly 700 originating from or headed to U.S. airports, with more than 1,500 delays.
Based on data from FlightAware, the three US airlines with the most number of disrupted flights by way of cancellation or delays are: SkyWest (SKYW), Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines.
Alaska Airlines apologized to affected passengers in a statement and acknowledged that, “Snow and wintry conditions are creating a bit of a bah-humbug for our operations to and from Seattle, including flight cancellations and delays.”
“The safety of our operations is our top priority. With the added time to de-ice our aircraft prior to departure, it takes longer for aircraft departing the airport than on a warm sunny day. The pre-cancellation of flights eases congestion and allows all airlines to match the reduced number of aircraft allowed to land and depart,” the airline also added.
As flight disruptions continue, Alaska Airlines urged passengers to check their respective flight status before heading to the airport:
Winter weather is impacting travel in the PNW. We recommend guests check their flight status before heading to the airport. For the latest winter update, visit our blog: https://t.co/63ulI7zazT
— Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) December 26, 2021
Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines advised passengers that it is expecting to have around 40 flights canceled on December 27, 2021:
“Winter weather in portions of the U.S. and the omicron variant continued to impact Delta’s holiday weekend flight schedule. Of the 4,155 total mainline and connection flights scheduled Sunday, the airline had canceled 161, with around 40 more cancelations forecasted for the day, fewer cancelations than predicted less than a day ago.
The circumstances of weather and the omicron variant forced Delta to cancel a total of 375 mainline and connection flights Saturday, Christmas Day. The airline canceled 212 total flights on Friday, Christmas Eve.Delta expects that around 40 flights may be canceled Monday.”
Worldwide, over 4,500 flights were canceled by December 25, 2021 and thousands more were delayed as the highly infectious Omicron variant disrupted holiday travel, according to Flightaware.
Omicron is now the dominant COVID-19 variant in the United States, representing 73 percent of sequenced cases for the week of December 18, 2021 alone.