Hits keep coming: More than 1,150 flights canceled today

Jan 9, 2022

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Another day, another series of cancellations and delays for the airlines.

As we’ve been reporting, airlines across the board have been suffering operational problems for weeks now including the busy holiday period. It was hoped once January was underway and demand slowed down that the airlines would be able to get to some semblance of normalcy. So far, that hasn’t happened.

Airlines had already canceled more than 1,150 flights in the U.S. on Sunday by noon.

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(Screenshot courtesy Flight Aware)
(Screenshot courtesy FlightAware)

Of the major domestic carriers, Alaska Airlines is having the most trouble today with 12% of its flights canceled. United cut 8% of its flights and another 5% are delayed. Southwest is still struggling to recover after a series of bad days, cutting more than 230 flights today – around 6% of its flights. Southwest has delayed another 8% of its schedule. Frontier has cut 5%, regional carriers SkyWest, Republic and Mesa have cut between 5-17% of their schedules.

American Airlines is faring better Sunday with only 58 flights or 2% of its schedule slashed.

Better news from Delta Air Lines which has only canceled six flights Sunday.

Denver International Airport hit hard today with 13% of its flights canceled.

Related: Here’s what to do if your flight is delayed or canceled

The omicron variant of COVID-19 has devastated airline operations and airline schedules for more than two weeks now. Airlines simply don’t have enough staff to operate all their flights because of sick calls. A few major snowstorms haven’t helped matters.

Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and president of Atmosphere Research, told TPG that COVID-19 was causing staff shortages at every airline and at every airport. “Obviously many cancellations occur at the last minute when a crew member is unable to work … airlines have done the best they can to cope with a situation that isn’t just fluid, but chaotic.”

Related: 6 real-life strategies to use if your flight is canceled

Several airlines have preemptively cut their schedules back significantly. As we reported yesterday, Alaska cut 10% of its flights for January in an attempt to restore regular operations. JetBlue had previously announced similar measures.

Related: 1 in 13 flights was canceled during the holidays

The airlines are doing better this weekend than they did last week. Friday, airlines canceled more than 2,600 flights as a snowstorm hit the Northeast. 

Harteveldt also told me the airlines were doing the best they could considering we are in the middle of an ever-changing pandemic:

“This is so frustrating for airline managers, airline employees and for travelers. Everyone is eagerly awaiting to see the broader number of case counts and start to see verifiable good news that allows us to confirm the omicron variant peak has been reached and has passed. But this isn’t a situation the airlines can control.”

Related: Delta doles out SkyMiles for canceled holiday flights; United and others remain silent


Data from Cirium and FlightAware. (Image by Bill Harkins/The Points Guy)

A TPG analysis found that one in 13 flights over the holidays was canceled. Still, 92% of scheduled flights did operate. How’s that for a “silver lining”?

Featured image by Rebecca Butala How/Getty Images.

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