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Between growing concerns of the spread of the omicron variant, winter storms throughout the Midwest, and the holiday schedule, airports experienced massive chaos. If you have ever found yourself in the airport around the holidays, you know how overwhelming it can be. The impact is clear, causing 2,600 more flights canceled on Sunday. 

Canceled flights cause mass confusion

On Saturday, a winter storm ripped through the Midwest, making Chicago one of the most challenging destinations for travelers throughout the weekend. Due to weather delays, over a quarter of all flights were canceled.

Denver’s airport also faced significant disruptions. Many people didn’t learn their airlines canceled their connecting flights until they touched down. Then it was chaos to find alternative flights and navigate through baggage claims overrun with stranded and confused travelers. 

In Michigan, the Detroit International Airport Authority said crews worked tirelessly and constantly to remove snow and maintain the airfield. Atlanta’s Airport Authority issued warnings to all travelers to arrive earlier than usual due to the likelihood of delays. An increase in passenger volume also attributed to the warnings. 

And thousands of miles from the closest snowstorms, Hawaiian Airlines cited staffing shortages as a cause for their canceled flights between islands. 

Working to compensate affected travelers

Southwest Airlines said it was working to help customers affected by about 400 flights canceled around the country Sunday, about 11% of its schedule. The Dallas-based airline anticipates even more operational challenges to come as the storm system pushes into the Eastern seaboard.

Airlines have said they are taking steps to reduce cancellations caused by workers affected by the pandemic. United is offering to pay pilots triple or more of their usual wages for picking up open flights through January. A union spokesperson said that Spirit Airlines reached a deal with the Association of Flight Attendants for double pay for cabin crews through Tuesday.

Airlines hope that extra pay and reduced schedules get them through the holiday crush and into January. The seasonal decline could be sharper than expected this year because most business travelers are still grounded.

Mark McKee
Mark McKee
Mark McKee is a Travel Analyst for The Jet Set. He writes about news and events affecting the travel industry.

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