“We just can’t find a flight back home," traveler Itzel Barajas said on Monday at San Diego International Airport. "We are from Seattle, and there’s no flights right now. Everything has been cancelled, so we are just waiting for a flight back,”
Barajas was not alone: Thousands of domestic and international flights were cancelled over the holiday weekend, with airlines citing labor shortages fueled by the omicron variant of COVID-19.
United Airlines sent the following statement to NBC7:
“The nationwide spike in omicron cases has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation. As a result, we’ve unfortunately had to cancel some flights and are notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport. We’re sorry for the disruption and are working hard to rebook as many people as possible and get them on their way during the holidays.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Dec. 27 that it was shortening the recommended quarantine time from 10 days to 5 days for asymptomatic people, but for many the news was too late.
Many airlines, as well as the airline industry group Airlines for America. have been calling for the move, which they believe will help ease the labor shortage.
Everyone NBC7 spoke with at San Diego International Airport on Monday said they believe COVID-19 protocols are important but added to their stress.
“With all of the different COVID testing that we need to do, there’s only certain locations that’ll give you the right test that you need, depending on where you are flying from and out of, and the place that we actually had something scheduled with shut down due to COVID-19, so we had to reschedule that thing, which is putting us in a whole different city to fly out of,” Bronson Kirchick said.
The cancellations are leaving some people wondering when they will arrive at their destination.
“I’m kind of overwhelmed because we just want to get back home to spend the rest of the holidays with our families,” Barajas said.
It remains to be seen when flight schedules will be back on track, but United Airlines and American Airlines told NBC7 that they are working to get people rebooked and to their destination.