Backpackers Tokyo

A double whammy of bad weather and airline staff shortages caused by a surge in COVID-19 cases forced the nation's travelers to endure yet another miserable day at airports as more than 1,600 flights were canceled and nearly 4,000 were delayed.

The flightmare entered its ninth day as 1,638 flights were canceled as of Wednesday afternoon and another 3,942 domestic or international flights starting or finishing in the United States had been delayed. 

The cancellations topped Tuesday's total of 1,562 scrapped flights and raised the overall total of grounded planes to more than 21,000 since Christmas Eve. 

The airlines are not only dealing with skyrocketing cases fueled by the Omicron variant but snow and icy conditions that have forced airports in Chicago, Seattle, Baltimore and Newark to cancel flights. 

And air travelers could expect even bigger disruptions this weekend as the heavily-traveled Northeast corridor is expecting to get walloped by snow and freezing conditions.

The one bright spot may be that most of the holiday travel is coming to an end. There were about 1.6 million travelers who passed through TSA checkpoints at U.S. airports Tuesday, about a third less than the peak just before Christmas.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 3,942 domestic flights or international ones starting or finishing in the United States had been delayed

  • Copy link to paste in your message

As of Wednesday afternoon, 3,942 domestic flights or international ones starting or finishing in the United States had been delayed

The travel nightmare continues with more than 1,638 flights canceled on Wednesday due to airline staffing woes sparked by a surge in COVID-19 cases

  • Copy link to paste in your message

The travel nightmare continues with more than 1,638 flights canceled on Wednesday due to airline staffing woes sparked by a surge in COVID-19 cases

The flightmare entered its ninth day as 1,638 flights were canceled as of Wednesday afternoon and another 3,942 domestic or international flights starting or finishing in the United States had been delayed

  • Copy link to paste in your message

The flightmare entered its ninth day as 1,638 flights were canceled as of Wednesday afternoon and another 3,942 domestic or international flights starting or finishing in the United States had been delayed

Travel nightmare continues as flights get canceled and delayed

Loaded: 0%

Progress: 0%

0:00

LIVE

On Wednesday, La Guardia Airport in New York City alerted passengers of long delays due to winter weather.  

Meanwhile, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey reported 163 flight cancelations and 208 flight delays.     

Many travelers tweeted at the airlines to complain about last-minute cancelations and long delays, lost bags and hours-long hold times to reach anybody in customer service. Some said they were forced to sleep at the airports.

'How our flight get delayed, then pushed back to the original time, then delayed again? just be real with customers and stop tryna protect your necks… weather related delays are expected, but we also expect solid leadership and strategy to deal with the ripple effects,' Twitter user Jose Cotto wrote on Wednesday.  

'… 48+ hours of cancellations and delays. terrible communication and lack of transparency. customer service rep straight up said “are you getting to the final destination? then we’re doing what we said we’d do…''' he added.  

Another Twitter user also took to the social media platform to complain about the long wait at airports.   

Roughly 20,000 US flights have been canceled since Christmas Eve

  • Copy link to paste in your message

Roughly 20,000 US flights have been canceled since Christmas Eve 

Since Christmas, American travelers have experienced disrupted service due to a combination of bad weather and staff shortages

  • Copy link to paste in your message

 Since Christmas, American travelers have experienced disrupted service due to a combination of bad weather and staff shortages

More than 1,507 flights are canceled and 1,700 are delayed as travel nightmare extends to ninth day

  • Copy link to paste in your message

More than 1,507 flights are canceled and 1,700 are delayed as travel nightmare extends to ninth day

Flight cancelations and delays cause nationwide travel chaos

Loaded: 0%

Progress: 0%

0:00

LIVE

'Where am I going in the middle of a worldwide surge in the pandemic? I’d rather they just canceled my flight than have me wait through 7 hours of delays while they search for the next available crew,' Twitter user Jose Cotto wrote on Wednesday.

Southwest was the hardest hit of all US airlines on Wednesday with 511 cancellations and another 523 delayed by late afternoon.

SkyWest, which operates in more than 200 American cities on behalf of Delta, United, American Eagle and Alaska, cancelled 283 flights.

Other popular airlines had far fewer cancellations: United called off 158, Alaska Airlines canceled 113 and Delta 41. 

The total of grounded flights in the US was in the few hundreds per day the week before Christmas, then soared past 1,000 a day. 

Airlines blamed crew shortages on the spreading virus, with new cases tripling over the past two weeks, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Airlines and passengers lucked out for several days with mostly favorable weather, but that changed when a winter storm hit the Midwest on Saturday and caused cancellations to spike again to new holiday-season highs.

Over the weekend, about 5,400 U.S. flights were canceled - nearly 12percent of all scheduled flights - and more than 9,000 worldwide, according to FlightAware.  

Many travelers tweeted at the airlines to complain about last-minute cancelations and long delays, lost bags and hours-long hold times to reach anybody in customer service. Some said they slept in airports.

  • Copy link to paste in your message

Many travelers tweeted at the airlines to complain about last-minute cancelations and long delays, lost bags and hours-long hold times to reach anybody in customer service. Some said they slept in airports.

A Twitter user wrote she'd rather skip the travel nightmare at American airports

  • Copy link to paste in your message

A Twitter user wrote she'd rather skip the travel nightmare at American airports 

The total of grounded flights in the US was in the few hundreds per day the week before Christmas, then soared past 1,000 a day

  • Copy link to paste in your message

The total of grounded flights in the US was in the few hundreds per day the week before Christmas, then soared past 1,000 a day

A Twitter user complains of flights delays

  • Copy link to paste in your message

A Twitter user complains of flights delays 

Over the weekend, about 5,400 U.S. flights were canceled - nearly 12percent of all scheduled flights - and more than 9,000 worldwide, according to FlightAware

  • Copy link to paste in your message

Over the weekend, about 5,400 U.S. flights were canceled - nearly 12percent of all scheduled flights - and more than 9,000 worldwide, according to FlightAware

Many of the cancellations were made hours or even a day in advance

  • Copy link to paste in your message

Many of the cancellations were made hours or even a day in advance

Travel chaos continues into new year as flights are canceled

Loaded: 0%

Progress: 0%

0:00

LIVE

Many of the cancellations were made hours or even a day in advance. 

Airlines believe they have a better chance to keep lighter schedules on track, and it save passengers from making needless trips to the airport.

More than three-quarters of Monday's scheduled flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and nearly half of those at nearby Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport were scrubbed, according to FlightAware. 

Both airports received more than six inches of snow.

Spokesman Brad Hawkins said storms over the weekend and on Monday affected operations at some of its biggest airports, including Chicago, Denver and Baltimore, and left planes and crews out of position.

The travel nightmare continues with thousands of flights canceled on Wednesday due to airline staffing woes sparked by a surge in COVID-19 cases after the holidays

  • Copy link to paste in your message

The travel nightmare continues with thousands of flights canceled on Wednesday due to airline staffing woes sparked by a surge in COVID-19 cases after the holidays

Airlines are paying temporary bonuses to encourage pilots and flight attendants to pick up flights left empty by co-workers with COVID-19

  • Copy link to paste in your message

Airlines are paying temporary bonuses to encourage pilots and flight attendants to pick up flights left empty by co-workers with COVID-19

Airlines are paying temporary bonuses to encourage pilots and flight attendants to pick up flights left empty by co-workers with COVID-19. 

United will pay pilots triple their usual wages for picking up open flights through most of January. 

Spirit Airlines reached a deal with the union to pay flight attendants double through Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, the US reached more than 50.4 million COVID-19 cases this week.

Dr Anthony Fauci also warned on Monday that Americans may soon need to produce a negative COVID test to leave quarantine after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cut the isolation period from 10 days to five for the asymptomatic.

Flight cancelations cause overwhelming scenes at airports

Loaded: 0%

Progress: 0%

0:00

LIVE

More than 828,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic

  • Copy link to paste in your message

More than 828,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic

The CDC decision to slash the quarantine period in half for patients without symptoms came last Tuesday in an effort to prevent another devastating blow to the economy amid the spike in workers testing positive, sparking fears of lengthy shutdowns that could further decimate the economy. 

The US is predicted to reach a peak in cases by January 9, which would see somewhere between 2.5million to 5.4million new cases per week, according to researchers from Columbia University, The New York Times reported.  

More than 828,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.