The travel nightmare drags into a seventh day as at least 1,000 flights are canceled and 500 delayed on Thursday, and now major airline JetBlue announced it has already cut more than 1,280 flights through mid-January due to COVID.
So far on Thursday, 1,024 flights scheduled to enter, leave or fly in the U.S. have been canceled and 670 were delayed, according to tracking website FlightAware.
Staffing shortages caused by COVID infections led United Airline to cancel 188 flights on Thursday while Atlanta-based Delta said it canceled 87, and JetBlue reported 178 nixed flights.
As a result of rising coronavirus infections among staff, JetBlue also announced it was cutting more than 1,280 flights, or 10 percent of its daily schedule, from December 30 through January 13 in order ‘to get even further ahead of the expected increase in Omicron cases,’ CNBC reported.
‘This past week has been one of our most difficult operating periods during the pandemic,’ three JetBlue department leaders wrote Tuesday in a note to staff. ‘The exponential growth in Omicron cases over just a couple of days is at a level that no one could reasonably prepare for.’
Travelers make their way through Miami International Airport on Tuesday as they navigate multiple cancellations as airlines deal with staff shortages caused by COVID-19
JetBlue announced they were cutting more than 1,280 flights from December 30 through January 13 in order to deal with staff shortages due to COVID-19
Long lines at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday as thousands of flights care cancelled and delayed due to the recent COVID-19 surge
A traveler looks at a flight status board at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles on Tuesday
The chaos kickstarted over the holiday weekend after more than 7,300 flights were impacted Sunday, and 4,000 flights were canceled or delayed on Christmas Day, frustrating travelers.
More cancellations are expected during the day as airlines scramble to deal with the surge of COVID cases.
The U.S. is averaging 181,948 COVID cases every day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with that number set to increase in the coming days due to reporting lags during the holiday season and the highly contagious Omicron variant.
On Thursday, seven days into the holiday travel week, people were still on social media sharing their nightmare travel stories.
‘JetBlue just absolutely making my life hell right now,’ one person tweeted Thursday morning.
Others complained about long delays and mismanagement of flights.
‘Been sitting in line for the Delta help desk at SeaTac for the past 3 hours rapidly approaching 24 hours awake because of this mismanaged flight,’ an angry customer tweeted.
Someone else tweeted: ‘Delta pretty sure I just caught covid sitting on the tarmac for 2.5 hours at LAX waiting to deplane flight #0458. How is it that there were no other gates available for 2.5 hours?’
‘Thank you United for delaying my flight two hours, having us board, then spending 3 more hours before cancelling it. Love being sent back into the airport at 4:30 am and being told there is no update until 6!’ another unlucky traveler tweeted.