Christmas Travel Woes Mount as Omicron Hits Pilots and Attendants


by Mish Shedlock, The Street:

Over 600 flights were cancelled on Friday leaving passengers stranded in numerous cities. There are more cancellations on Saturday.

Christmas Cancellations

Passengers were stranded on Friday as Omicron Variant Hits Pilots and Flight Attendants.

Airlines have canceled more than 600 U.S. flights so far Friday, calling off hundreds more scheduled for Saturday, according to FlightAware, a flight-tracking site. Some European airlines and rail operators are also grappling with higher rates of illness among employees, in the latest sign of how the rapidly spreading Omicron variant is upending business even in industries with heavily vaccinated workforces.


Cancellations in the U.S. climbed at carriers including United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc., which began pre-emptively cutting flights Thursday. Airlines have rushed to reassign and reroute pilots and planes to cover the flying, in some cases offering additional pay to encourage healthy employees to pick up shifts over the Christmas holiday.

United canceled over 185 mainline flights—10% of what was scheduled Friday—and another 120 on Saturday, according to FlightAware. Delta, which cited both winter weather and the impact of the new variant, said it canceled about 160 of the nearly 3,100 flights it had planned Friday. The airline said it expects upward of 150 cancellations on both Saturday and Sunday.

National Rail advised that late-scheduled Christmas Eve trains were especially in danger of cancellation. Some trains also were canceled Friday because of planned labor strikes affecting some services to Birmingham, Edinburgh and elsewhere, according to rail representatives.

NFL Record Number of Cases 

Also consider The NFL Scaled Back Its Covid Testing. Omicron Keeps Turning Up Anyway.

On Monday Dec. 13, the National Football League broke an unfortunate record: 37 players tested positive for Covid-19. This Monday, that record was broken again: 47 came down with the virus.

The difference between these two Mondays was that, during the week in between, the league took steps to scale back its testing program for players. By ending weekly tests of vaccinated players who show no symptoms, it signaled the inevitability of asymptomatic players with Covid playing football against each other because they might never be tested.

And despite all that, the league still turned up more cases in a single day than ever before—a crystalline indicator of how close the virus came to capsizing this season if the approach to the virus hadn’t changed. From Dec. 13 through this Thursday, 321 players have tested positive in under two weeks. If that seems like a lot, that’s because it is. It represents more than 10% of rosters, or enough to field more than four full teams of players who combine to earn hundreds of millions of dollars.

While 154 players have tested positive this week, the current paradigm also indicates there are far more people with Covid—those who are asymptomatic. But the league doesn’t see that as a problem.

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