Airlines cancel 2,500 more flights worldwide as travel ordeal continues

Bad weather and rising COVID-19 cases are continuing to tangle travelers' plans.

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Joan E. Solsman
2 min read

A surge in COVID-19 and bad weather has gnarled air travel with cancellations. 


After bad weather and a surge in coronavirus cases gnarled air travel over the Christmas holiday weekend, flight cancellations in the thousands have pushed into the the week leading up to New Year's Day. 

Nearly 2,500 flights have been canceled worldwide so far on Wednesday, after more than 3,200 were canceled Monday and another 2,700 shut down on Tuesday, according to FlightAware. Globally, airlines canceled more than 6,000 flights over the Christmas weekend from Friday through Sunday, according to CNN. That brings the total tally of canceled flights up to roughly 14,000 since Christmas Eve. 

Airlines pointed to bad winter weather and staffing shortages, as the widely spreading omicron variant of the coronavirus either infects workers or crimps their ability to work because of quarantining after an exposure. The end-of-the-year period around Christmas and New Year's Day is one of the busiest travel times of the year. 

United canceled 129 of its flights Tuesday, about 6% of its total scheduled, according to FlightAware. 

"The nationwide spike in omicron cases has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation," a United spokeswoman said Monday. "As a result, we've unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport. We're sorry for the disruption and are working hard to rebook as many people as possible and get them on their way during the holidays."

Travel in general became a question mark as families rethought their holiday gathering plans amid the rise in omicron cases, and those who stuck with their travel plans over the weekend likely struggled to get to their destinations. Sunday saw more than 189,000 new COVID-19 cases alone in the US, according to the New York Times coronavirus tracker