NewsLocal News


Major airlines cancel flights on Christmas weekend, citing Omicron and weather

Posted at 5:38 PM, Dec 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-24 20:38:02-05

Many people are heading out to see loved ones for Christmas but some people found out there’s been a change of plans. Many airlines canceled flights because of weather and the Omicron variant.

On Christmas Eve, global airlines canceled more than 2,200 flights. More than 500 of those were scheduled in or out of the United States.

Several major airlines said they had to cancel hundreds of Christmas Eve flights after crew members contracted the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The variant became the dominant strain of the coronavirus in a matter of weeks. And airlines are warning, flights could be canceled throughout the weekend.

“We are picking up my son who has been on a yearlong deployment to Iraq,” said Jessica Treiber, who was waiting to pick up her son at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport on Friday.

The airport offers flights with Alaska, American and United airlines.

“We were super concerned about delays. He flew in from Dallas, Texas to here and first thing we did this morning was get up and make sure that there weren't delays. And we kept checking to make sure that there was actual departure,” Treiber said.

Paul Rehn was supposed to fly to Santa Barbara from Phoenix, Arizona, but there was a delay.

“We found out at the gate. So we were, you know, getting updates at the gate of just when and what was happening. And after that, they gave us a choice either risk it or take another flight,” Rehn explained.

He was able to get another flight to San Luis Obispo and land on Christmas Eve, instead of on Christmas Day.

On Friday, United Airlines canceled around 177 flights, Alaska Airlines canceled 11, and American Airlines canceled 16, according to

“And they basically told us, well, if you're too checked in late, then you're not going to get on the flight. But we don't know when that's going to happen, so I'll just get in line,” Rehn said.

Treiber's son didn’t experience any issues.

“And so he didn't experience any delays, but we were really concerned. So he got here on time,” she said.

Delta Airlines canceled more than 150 flights on Friday, out of around 3,100 scheduled flights.

But Treiber’s son was able to make it home for Christmas.

“So when he deployed to Iraq, his daughter was two months old. And so now you know, she's 14 months old, so he's coming back from her being a tiny little baby to a little girl now. So it was really neat to see her see him and meet him and him see her having grown up,” Treiber said.

Delta Airlines warned of cancellations for Saturday and Sunday as well. There could be more than 150 flights canceled per day.

Airlines are recommending people check their bookings for updates.