Flights canceled at LAX due to the weather, lack of staff in COVID

Passengers crowded Los Angeles International Airport and other airports across the country on Sunday as weather problems and staff shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic added to a wave of cancellations over the holiday weekend.

Aviation industry customers endured significant travel pain during the day because many of the 200,000 passengers expected to fly in or out of LAX had their plans disrupted when at least 119 flights were canceled, according to a spokesman for the airport.

The tracking site FlightAware.com listed more than 1,328 cancellations within, into or out of the United States and more than 3,039 total cancellations around the world.

There were 96 cancellations at LAX Christmas Day, according to FlightAware, compared to nearly 1,000 cancellations nationwide.

Aggravating problems for the crowd of holidaymakers: It was difficult to keep social distance to avoid infection, even with a new, state-wide indoor mask mandate.

“We do everything we can; from signage and audio messaging to messages on social media and deep cleaning,” said Heath Montgomery, spokesman for LAX, “but we rely most on individual passengers to be good companions.”

The travel boom coincides with an increase in COVID-related hospital admissions in the state over the past three weeks and the increase in new Omicron cases. Overall COVID-19 hospital admissions have increased by 16% nationwide and a 39% increase in Los Angeles County during that time, and the Omicron variant has been confirmed in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.

Delta, JetBlue and United officials said on Sunday that staff shortages, apparently contributing to an increase in flight cancellations due to new Omicron cases, were unexpected and it was not clear when flights would return to normal.

On Sunday, United had a total of 98 cancellations nationwide related to COVID personnel issues out of more than 4,000 scheduled flights, said Maddie King, a spokeswoman for United. About 50% of the customers whose journey was interrupted, she said, arrived at their final destination either early or within four hours of their original scheduled flight.

“The nationwide increase in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation,” she said. “As a result, we have unfortunately had to cancel some flights and notify affected customers before they arrive at the airport. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working hard to rebook as many people as possible and get them on their way to the holidays.”

No surprise there, according to Montgomery. “We share a connected national airspace,” he said, “so if anything happens here or on the east coast, we all feel its impact.”

The airport expected the journey to peak on December 17, 19 and 26 and January 2 with more than 200,000 passengers each day. But growing frustrations and problems were reflected in LAX’s recent tweets.

“At LAX today, our flights are showing over 90% of the time right now with 25 cancellations out of 1,028 scheduled flights,” LAX tweeted at 9:23 a.m. Friday.

An updated tweet five hours later said: “We have seen some further cancellations tonight, so please check your flight status with your airline to get the latest. Come early, we are busy tonight! Check parking at http://parking.flylax.com and @FlyLAXstats. “

Sunday morning, the airport announced: “Today is expected to be another travel day at #LAX with up to 200,000 passengers using the airport! Be sure to arrive early for your flight, pre-book parking at http://parking.flylax.com, and please put on your mask – and wish everyone #Sundferie #LAXTravelSafely. “

It is estimated that 3.5 million visitors were expected to land on LAX between Thursday and January 3, marking a return to near-2019 levels, with 4.5 million travelers using the airport during the same period in the last pre-pandemic holiday season. .

“Last year, 1.85 million passengers passed through LAX during this time, making this year almost twice as busy,” airport officials said in a statement this month.

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