Winter weather, staffing shortages, and Omicron variant affecting Holiday Travel

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WARWICK, R.I (WPRI) – The holidays are one of the busiest times for travel, but as many know between weather, staffing shortages and the rapid rise of the Omicron variant cancellations have been on the rise and here in Rhode Island we’re seeing the effects.

The pandemic has continued to change the way of life so many, but for one North Kingstown family they shared a Christmas moment that they will never forget.

It was an emotional homecoming at Rhode Island T.F Green International airport as Dave Sampson was finally able to see his son for the first time in more than 2 years.

Sampson, emotional at the thought of getting to hold his son once again.

“The tears coming out of my eyes should give you a pretty good answer to my excitement says Sampson, we’ve stayed as close as we could over the past couple of years but its been hard”.

Dave’s son Travis moved to Austin, Texas after high school for college. What he didn’t know was that Thanksgiving of 2019 would be the last time he’d see his son.

On January 20, 2020 the first case of coronavirus made its way to the United States.

Fast forward to Christmas 2021, coronavirus is still running rampant and the Omicron variant putting a damper on holiday travel. as staffing shortages cause delays and cancellations nationwide.

Travis telling 12 News that the distance and time away was a learning curve, one that was difficult for everybody but especially for him being halfway across the country.

Delta Airlines releasing a statement which reads:

“Winter weather in portions of the U.S. and the omicron variant continued to impact Delta’s holiday weekend flight schedule Saturday, Christmas Day. The airline canceled 344 mainline and connection flights of the day’s schedule that included approximately 3,000 scheduled flights after exhausting all options and resources to prevent those cancelations.

We apologize to customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans. Delta people are working together around the clock to reroute and substitute aircraft and crews to get customers where they need to be as quickly and safely as possible. When that’s not possible, Delta Reservations specialists coordinated with our Operations and Customer Care Center to get those impacted on the next available flight.

Delta expects more than 300 of its flights will be canceled on Sunday, Dec. 26.

“Winter weather in portions of the U.S. and the omicron variant continued to impact Delta’s holiday weekend flight schedule Saturday, Christmas Day. The airline canceled 344 mainline and connection flights of the day’s schedule that included approximately 3,000 scheduled flights after exhausting all options and resources to prevent those cancelations.

We apologize to customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans. Delta people are working together around the clock to reroute and substitute aircraft and crews to get customers where they need to be as quickly and safely as possible. When that’s not possible, Delta Reservations specialists coordinated with our Operations and Customer Care Center to get those impacted on the next available flight.

Delta expects more than 300 of its flights will be canceled on Sunday, Dec. 26.

Customers are encouraged to check their flight status and manage their rebooking on Delta.com or the Fly Delta app. Updates can also be sent directly to a mobile device or by email.”

The Sampson’s say they are grateful they weren’t one of those flights. “We are more thankful than you can imagine, we’re happy to be one of the few lucky ones to get their family home and be able to be together during the holidays” said Dave.

United Airlines also impacted saying 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. 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.

We’re flying an average of 4K flights a day this holiday season, and these cancel represent a small portion of those flights. So far, 25% of customers who have been impacted have been rebooked on flights arriving them to arrive at their final destination earlier than would have otherwise. 

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