‘Tis the for season for cancelations.
Thousands of flights were canceled over Christmas weekend worldwide, as the COVID-19 omicron variant continued its rapid spread, putting pressure on staffing at both airports and airlines.
There were 2,705 flights canceled worldwide on Christmas Day and 957 flights to or out of the U.S., according to FlightAware, which tracks delays and cancelations in real time, and more than 1,600 flights canceled in the U.S. alone.
Delta Air Lines had canceled 309 flights by 5 p.m. EST on Christmas Day, United Airlines had canceled 240 flights, Jet Blue JBLU, +0.20% had canceled 125 flights, and American Airlines AAL, had canceled 92 flights.
The Transportation Security Administration said that 30 million people are expected to travel from Dec. 20 through Jan. 3, down from approximately 44 million during the 2019 holiday season just the coronavirus pandemic.
Passengers took to Twitter TWTR, +0.59% to express their frustration and disappointment. “I’m going to miss Christmas with my family!” one man wrote. “You canceled my direct flight on Christmas Eve,” another passenger tweeted an airline.
“The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation,” United Airlines UAL, +0.67% said in statement released on Christmas Eve.
“As a result, we’ve unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport.” The airline said that it was working hard to rebook passengers.
“Delta DAL, +0.43% teams have exhausted all options and resources — including rerouting and substitutions of aircraft and crews to cover scheduled flying,” the airline said in a statement ahead of the Christmas weekend.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus SARS-CoV-2, has killed 809,300 Americans. There is a daily average of 197,358 new cases in the U.S., up 65% over two weeks, according to the New York Times tracker.
Related: Canceling Christmas travel plans because of COVID-19? How to avoid wasting time — and money