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Thousands More Flights Canceled Amid Snowstorms, Omicron Cases

Heading into the second week of 2022, the streak of heavy flight disruptions that characterized the 2021 holiday season is still on a roll. Much of the disruption continues to be caused by a spike in COVID-19 cases among airline and transportation agency staff, which is being attributed to the highly-contagious and vaccine-resistant Omicron variant.

But, now, rough winter weather conditions in the Midwest and a massive snowstorm that’s slamming the Northeast, causing even more travel headaches in cities like Boston, Philadelphia and New York, USA Today reported. With snowfall rates reaching up to three inches per hour in the New York area, hundreds of flights were canceled and delayed on Friday across the New York metro’s three major airports.

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By 5:00 p.m. on Friday, the total number of delayed flights traveling into, out of or within the U.S. was approaching 3,300. At the same time, the count on flights canceled in the US had reached nearly 2,600, according to FlightAware’s real-time air travel tracking data. This marks the thirteenth consecutive day that airlines have been forced to axe over 1,000 flights.

The recent air travel snarls started on Christmas Eve, as already understaffed airlines were left even more shorthanded as employees called out sick with COVID-19 and were obliged to quarantine. The problems were further compounded by inclement weather conditions around the country sometimes rendering it too hazardous to fly.

The cold weather system currently affecting the Northeast is expected to strengthen today and continue over the weekend, dropping up to a foot of snow on some areas to the far north that weren’t impacted by the region’s last winter storm.


Airplane covered in snow and ice during a winter storm.
PHOTO: Airplane covered in snow and ice during a winter storm. (Photo via iStock/Getty Images Plus/nycshooter)

People planning to fly over the next few days can opt to avoid the entire situation by delaying their trips without penalty, since several major airlines are offering winter weather travel waivers, according to USA Today.

Friday’s Major U.S. Airline Disruptions:

Airline Canceled Flights Percent of Schedule Delayed Flights Percent of Schedule
Alaska 153 20 84 11
Allegiant 36 8 96 22
American 197 6 298 10
Delta 111 4 403 15
Frontier 31 6 54 11
JetBlue 157 17 287 31
SkyWest 202 8 321 14
Spirit 26 3 120 16
Southwest 536 17 561 18
United 210 10 360 17

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