Since December 24, 2021, a combination of cold weather and the rise of the Omicron COVID-19 variety has interrupted thousands of flights in the United States for three days in a row.
According to flight tracking website FlightAware, almost 1,500 flights inside, into, and out of the United States were canceled on December 26, 2021 alone.
On Christmas Day, at least 2,000 flights were canceled globally, with over 1,500 delays, including around 700 aircraft that originated in or were bound to U.S. airports.
SkyWest (SKYW), Alaska Carriers, and Delta Air Lines are the three US airlines with the highest flight disruptions due to cancellations or delays, according to FlightAware data.
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 delays persist, Alaska Airlines advises travelers to check the status of their flights 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 has informed passengers that around 40 flights will be 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.”
According to Flightaware, the highly infectious Omicron variety interrupted holiday travel worldwide, causing over 4,500 flights to be canceled and thousands more to be delayed by December 25, 2021.
In the United States, Omicron is currently the most common COVID-19 variant, accounting for 73 percent of all sequenced instances during the week of December 18, 2021 alone.