United and Delta flights canceled: over 500 cancellations of Christmas flights

Ron Hernandez’s daughter called him early Friday morning in a panic. Delta Air Lines has canceled its Christmas Day flight from Seoul to New Orleans via Atlanta.

The 26-year-old English teacher has not been home since 2019 due to the pandemic, and the expensive Delta business class ticket was her Christmas present.

Hernandez immediately called Delta to find a new flight. Despite her status as a high profile frequent flyer, which includes a dedicated phone line, the medical device consultant was on hold for about 30 minutes before changing the booking of a flight that will always take her home for Christmas.

“If my daughter had called she would still be on the phone waiting to come by,” he said.

Travelers with last-minute holiday flights this year are scrambling to find new flights as two major U.S. airlines, Delta and United, have canceled hundreds of flights for Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve. They cite crew shortages due to disease calls of the rapidly spreading omicron variant and weather conditions in some pockets of the country.

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United canceled 176 Christmas Eve flights, or 9% of scheduled flights, Delta, 151, or 7%, according to flight tracker FlightAware. Christmas Day cancellations for both airlines, starting at noon ET: 122 for Delta and 78 for United. Christmas Day is one of the lightest travel days in the holiday rush. JetBlue is also in trouble, with 72 Christmas Eve flights canceled, or 7% of its scheduled flights.

Delta said Friday morning that it expects cancellations to continue through Sunday, a busy travel day ahead of the new work week.

“We apologize to our customers for the delay in their vacation travel plans,” Delta spokeswoman Kate Modolo said in a statement. next available flight. ”

The airline, which just a week ago boasted to investors about its strong operational performance this year and its workforce amid flight problems from other airlines this year, said travelers should check the airline’s website and mobile app for the latest information and assistance with booking changes.

Delta’s general customer service line callers waited two hours and 43 minutes late Friday morning. United cited a 25-30 minute wait. A recording on United’s reservation line said “severe weather conditions” impacted its call center staff and urged travelers without a flight within the next 72 hours to call back later.

Airlines have faced long wait times as travel has increased this year.

Holiday flight cancellations put travelers with upcoming flights on the alert and check their flight status repeatedly.

Is my United flight canceled?

Ohio accountant Jason Chadwell is due to fly United from Cleveland to Las Vegas over Christmas. He heard about the flight cancellations early on Friday and checked United’s website and app every two hours. So far, her evening flight is going as planned.

Chadwell and his wife have tickets to two shows, a Christmas present from their children, and dinner reservations at restaurants run by celebrity chefs from their favorite cooking shows. This is his wife’s first trip to Las Vegas.

“It stresses me out because you have plans, you have reservations there,” he said.

He is considering an emergency flight to Las Vegas on Spirit Airlines, but is unwilling to book the tickets and pay for them if his United flight is not canceled.

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