USA: Omicron variant and a winter storm disrupt air travel

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An obstacle course rallied yesterday, Sunday, as many U.S. travelers attempted to board a plane amid a wave-of-Christmas return wave, as more than 2,600 flights were canceled and bad weather exacerbated the problem. which had already been caused by the mutated strain of the new coronavirus Omicron.

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The situation is expected to continue to be complicated today, the first working day of 2022, as more than 2,000 flights have already been canceled in the USA, which have been crossed since Saturday by the winter storm Frida.

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At 22:00 local time on Sunday (05:00 Greek time today), more than 2,650 domestic or international flights to or from the US were canceled, slightly less than the 2,750 that were canceled on Saturday, according to the tracking service. FlightAware flights.

That number represents more than half of the nearly 4,400 canceled flights worldwide at the same time. Nearly 8,600 US flights were delayed.

Southwest Airlines, one of the airlines most affected, was forced to cancel about 400 flights yesterday morning, a company spokesman said in an email to AFP, adding that further cancellations were expected.

Southwest passenger Nick Cagey saw his flight canceled. “We waited almost 3 hours to change the reservation as we could not do it online and, after settling (not completely) the situation, you canceled our second flight to another airport,” he said in a Twitter message.

“This is the 3rd cancellation (…). I should have returned 4 days ago,” Hailey, a passenger of the same company that was leaving Chicago, Illinois, also tweeted last night.

Strong winds, floods and snowfall have exacerbated flight problems in the United States that have plagued the entire aviation sector worldwide for a week. The highly contagious Omicron variant of the new coronavirus prevents many pilots or flight or ground crew members who are either ill or have come into contact with a case from attending work.

This lack of staff forces companies to restrict their flight schedules. At Christmas weekend, about 7,500 flights were canceled worldwide.

Chicago airports have been the hardest hit in the world since Saturday. About half of the flights there were canceled on Sunday as the area experienced heavy snowfall.

However, the situation is also complicated in Denver (Colorado), Newark (New Jersey) or even Detroit (Michigan).

In the United States, Hurricane Frida is expected to continue its course and hit the east coast, bringing snow from Boston to the south of the federal capital Washington, leaving about 1,400 scheduled flights in doubt.

The lack of staff will also continue to cause problems for airports, sometimes making it very difficult for passengers to pick up luggage, or making it too long to wait on the phone for those trying to find out about their flights.

Eric Crawford, for example, said in a Twitter message that he had been notified by Delta Airline “of an estimated waiting period of more than 22 hours for someone to connect with him after a flight cancellation”.

For his part, Kusik Bodu wrote on the same social media site that he would board an Air Alaska flight from Fairbanks, Alaska, to San Jose, California on December 30, “but our flight was postponed to today (Sunday). and finally canceled again ;;;; Many hours on the phone, no answer, and flights that are not rescheduled? I need help! “.

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Source From: Capital

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