Londoner Nathaniel Powell has been stranded in Chicago for two days trying to get home to Minnesota.
“My flight got canceled but it didn’t get canceled until I got here to Chicago, and it was a nightmare to find hotels and call the airline to get through to them to figure out what I’ve got to do next,” Powell said.
A packed airport greeted travelers as the holiday weekend comes to a close. Security lines extending nearly the length of United’s terminal one, for those lucky enough to be getting onto their regularly scheduled flights.
“We were really lucky. We were able to get in and out no problem. We’re were checking the apps and emails and everything was smooth sailing,” said Maggie Stewart.
According to TSA estimates, 10 million people will have flown through the nation’s airports from Friday through Monday. The crush of travelers could not come at a worse time. Staffing shortages brought upon by a fast spreading new coronavirus variant, combined with the holidays and winter weather literally created a perfect storm that began Christmas Eve and reached its peak Saturday, when 2700 U.S. flights were canceled.
“My flight was delayed by three hours due to staffing issues. At least that’s what the email text said. Now I’m trying to get an earlier flight,” said Enrico Fin. “Its a bit frustrating and you’re tired after a whole day traveling.”
The regional carrier SkyWest Airlines reported the highest number of cancelations at 512 or 21% of its total, CNN reported.
SkyWest operates regional flights for Delta connection, United Express and American Eagle.
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Among the full-service carriers, according to FlightAware, JetBlue reported the most disruption by canceling 169 flights or 16% of its total.
With the holidays now over and quarantine times for U.S airline employees reduced from 10 days to five, things should start to get better this week. However, some level of travel-related disruption should be expected to continue into the near future.
CNN contributed to this report.
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