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US airlines cancel flights for sixth day as omicron, weather wreaks havoc

Dec. 29, 2021
3 min read
US airlines cancel flights for sixth day as omicron, weather wreaks havoc
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U.S. airlines canceled more flights on Wednesday as an operational disruption caused primarily by the COVID-19 omicron variant continued for the sixth straight day.

With crews sidelined due to COVID infections, some airlines have had difficulty staffing flights. Additionally, Seattle (SEA) continued to see disruptions as airline networks recover after snowstorms. That recovery may be short-lived, as another 1-3" of snow is in the forecast for Thursday.

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As of 11:45 a.m. ET, U.S. carriers had canceled 791 flights, according to FlightAware.

SkyWest, the nation's largest regional airline, led cancelations for the second day in a row, with 192 flights, or 8% of its schedule. SkyWest flies for United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines.

United followed with 158 flights canceled (7% of its schedule), and then Delta, with 103 flights canceled (3% of its schedule). Both airlines have faced continuous woes since they began canceling flights operating on Friday, Christmas Eve.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, Delta blamed the weather at its hubs as the primary cause of the disruption.

"Winter weather and conditions in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest and the omicron variant are continuing to hamper operations, with Delta expecting to cancel upwards of 250 of 4,133 scheduled mainline and Delta Connection flights on Tuesday," it said.

Related: Delta warns of possible operational disruption caused by omicron quarantine rules, asks CDC to change guidelines

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The Atlanta-based carrier has been in the news for publicly urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to shorten COVID quarantine guidelines. On Monday, the CDC did just that, shortening quarantine from 10 to five days, though it's unclear how much relief that has provided to airlines thus far.

“The aviation workforce is essential to maintaining the operations of air travel and cargo supply chains. We appreciate the CDC’s announcement today updating isolation guidelines,” Airlines for America, the industry's lobbying group, said in a statement. “The decision is the right one based upon science.”

Despite the continued disruptions, there were some signs of improvement on Wednesday.

Southwest Airlines, which canceled 86 flights (2% of its schedule) on Tuesday, had only canceled nine flights by 11:45 a.m. ET.

American Airlines, which had been plagued by operational disruptions this fall, continues to operate relatively unscathed, as it has this entire week. Just seven flights had been canceled for the day by Wednesday morning.

Many of these cancelations have been proactive, meaning they're being decided strategically, many hours before the flight is scheduled to depart. If you are planning to travel in the next few days, it's important to monitor your email for important schedule updates from your carrier. Checking your reservation on your carrier's website or app doesn't hurt either, especially before you head for the airport, where lines can be long. Here's what to do if your flight is delayed or canceled.

Photo by Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images.

Featured image by AFP via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees