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Travelers hoping to get home or to another destination for the holidays have encountered some turbulence, with about 900 flights cancelled on Christmas Day and hundreds more grounded today. The complicating factor is the spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant that has infected crew members..
According to the FlightAware real-time tracking website, as of this writing, 635 flights have been cancelled and 592 delayed “within, into, or out of the U.S. today.” Total flight cancellations worldwide have reached 2,000-plus.
FlightAware’s “misery map” currently indicates that most of the delays are occurring in New York City’s JFK Airport and at Newark, N.J., International Airport.
Of the domestic carriers, Delta and United are reportedly experiencing the most difficulties, according to Fox Business, having cancelled 301 and 238 flights, respectively, on Christmas Day.
“As winter weather impacts the northwest and northeast U.S. the omicron variant continues to surge, Delta teams exhausted all options and resources before canceling around 158 flights in Friday’s nearly 3,100-flight schedule. A combination of issues, including but not limited to inclement weather in some areas of the country and the impact of the omicron variant, are driving cancellations and potential delays,” Delta, explained in a statement.
“The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation. As a result, we’ve unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport,” United noted in a statement of its own. “We’re sorry for the disruption and are working hard to rebook as many people as possible and get them on their way for the holidays.”
Panic and rage after major airlines cancel Christmas Eve flights over Omicron mess, leaving travelers stranded https://t.co/EL6auZOMQ6
— Jack Furnari (@JackBPR) December 24, 2021
“Many online blamed the delays on airlines that furloughed or fired employees who refused to get vaccinated. United canned more than 200 such workers in October,” the New York Post recalled.
As a side note, with long lines at the TSA checkpoints, flight delays even under non-peak conditions, travelers being packed in like sardines once they are seated, some passengers acting out either in terminals or onboard, it’s reasonable to conclude that air travel is not what it used to be.
Delta flight from Tampa to Atlanta got crazy‼️ pic.twitter.com/I9BZUKv3LB
— ATL Uncensored | Atlanta News (@ATLUncensored) December 25, 2021
Insofar as the spread of the virus is concerned, John Hopkins University data indicates the emergence of nearly 152,000 new COVID infections on Christmas Day, about 39,000 less than last year’s holiday.
The American public is understandably experiencing anxiety over this mutation, especially given the often-lurid media coverage,
Such media coverage also includes the fact that high-profile, triple-jabbed persons seem to be testing positive for COVID.
So far, the symptoms of the variant appear to be mild, however.
“But figures also show the virus is now markedly less deadly than it was this time last year. America saw 1,013 deaths in the most recent 24 hours, down 72 per cent on the 2,899 recorded for the same period in 2020. And while far more contagious than previous strains, multiple scientific studies have suggested that Omicron is up to 80 per cent less likely to lead to hospitalization, meaning deaths are also likely to remain lower,” the Daily Mail reported on Christmas Day.
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