Almost 3,000 flights have been delayed and 1,005 have been cancelled across the United States on Monday as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to surge. 

Among the airlines reporting disruptions are United, JetBlue, American, Alaskan, Delta and Southwest, as well as many international carriers.

The disruptions came after more than 8,400 flights were impacted on Sunday and 4,249 flights were canceled or delayed on Christmas Day, leaving travelers frustrated amid the holiday weekend. 

‘This was unexpected,’ United spokesperson Maddie King told USA Today

Delta, United and JetBlue have blamed the Omicron variant for staffing challenges that led to the disruptions. 

Over 1,000 flights have been delayed and 788 have been cancelled across the United States on Monday as of 9am. Above, travelers line up for shuttle buses at Denver International on Sunday

Over 1,000 flights have been delayed and 788 have been cancelled across the United States on Monday as of 9am. Above, travelers line up for shuttle buses at Denver International on Sunday

Among the airlines reporting disruptions are United, JetBlue, American, Alaskan, Delta and Southwest. Lines are pictured forming at Denver International Airport Sunday

Among the airlines reporting disruptions are United, JetBlue, American, Alaskan, Delta and Southwest. Lines are pictured forming at Denver International Airport Sunday

A traveler pushes a cart of bags through Denver's terminal Sunday, with yet another day of delays and cancelations announced Monday

A traveler pushes a cart of bags through Denver’s terminal Sunday, with yet another day of delays and cancelations announced Monday 

Airlines are citing the Omicron variant of COVID as a reason for the cancellations, with staff calling in sick. Above, all cancellations as of Monday at 9am

Airlines are citing the Omicron variant of COVID as a reason for the cancellations, with staff calling in sick. Above, all cancellations as of Monday at 9am

‘Our current pilot Covid-19 case count is on the rise,’ Bryan Quigley, United’s senior vice president of flight operations, wrote Sunday in a message to pilots obtained by CNBC.   

‘Pilots who have developed symptoms are also in quarantine and we have a high number of pilots on the sick list.’

As of Monday at 9am, Alaska Airlines had cancelled 93 flights and 57 were delayed, United cancelled 87 flights with 64 delays, American cancelled 79 flights with 90 delayed, JetBlue cancelled 66 flights with 131 delayed and Delta cancelled 60 flights with 137 delayed. 

At least three cruise ships were also forced to return to port without making scheduled port calls after COVID-19 cases were detected on board.

The hectic travel schedule comes as airlines have been hit hard by the recent COVID surge that saw 151,915 new cases confirmed on Christmas Day, along with a total 4,644 Omicron cases. 

‘During the course of the pandemic, when our numbers rose, we were able to absorb the flying because we had a significantly reduced schedule,’ Quigley told pilots. ‘Now as we approach 2019 flying levels, we must do all we can to ensure we are protected so that we can fly the schedule.’

Stranded travelers continued to air their grievances about their flights on Monday

Stranded travelers continued to air their grievances about their flights on Monday

Stranded travelers continued to air their grievances about their flights on Monday, with one user tweeting from Seattle: ‘Flight delayed  for three hours. Two agents to serve hundreds of people Total disaster!’

US airlines asked the Centers for Disease Control to cut quarantine guidelines in half for fully vaccinated people last week, CNBC reports. New York state shortened the quarantine period to five days for essential workers with breakthrough COVID cases.

‘If you meet this criteria and are eligible to return to work after 5 days of isolation, you must otherwise stay at home when not at work and continue to take basic precautions until the end of the standard 10-day isolation period,’ New York-based JetBlue said in an employee memo seen by CNBC. 

A JetBlue spokesman said the airline had the highest staffing numbers since the pandemic began at the start of the holiday season.

‘Like many businesses and organizations, we have seen an increasing number of sick calls from Omicron,’ the spokesman told CNBC. ‘Despite our best efforts, we’ve had to cancel a number of flights, and additional flight cancellations and other delays remain a possibility as we see more Omicron community spread.’

America’s top medical expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, reported a weekly average of about 150,000 cases, telling ABC’s This Week: ‘Every day it goes up and up. The last weekly average was about 150,000 and it likely will go much higher.’ 

Approximately 1,400 flights scheduled to enter, leave or fly within the country were canceled and about 5,900 were delayed Sunday, according to tracking website FlightAware (Pictured: Travelers at Harry Reid International Airport in Los Vegas on Sunday)

Approximately 1,400 flights scheduled to enter, leave or fly within the country were canceled and about 5,900 were delayed Sunday, according to tracking website FlightAware (Pictured: Travelers at Harry Reid International Airport in Los Vegas on Sunday)

Monday is the fourth straight day of flight cancellations and delays as COVID continues to thin out the number of available crews. 

Delta on Sunday canceled 167 flights or 6 percent; United canceled 115 flights or 5 percent and American canceled 83 flights or 2 percent, according to FlightAware.

Globally, 3,274 flights were called off and more than 16,000 were delayed on Sunday, FlightAware data showed.

A total of 997 flights were scrapped on Christmas Day and nearly 700 on Christmas Eve. Thousands more were delayed. 

A White House official, speaking to Reuters on the basis of anonymity, said the administration is monitoring the delays closely but noted that, while they can disrupt plans, ‘only a small percentage of flights are affected.’ 

Overall, the most heavily impacted US airports were Seattle, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth and JFK International in New York. 

Delta on Sunday canceled 167 flights or 6 percent; United canceled 115 flights or 5 percent and American canceled 83 flights or 2 percent, according to FlightAware

Delta on Sunday canceled 167 flights or 6 percent; United canceled 115 flights or 5 percent and American canceled 83 flights or 2 percent, according to FlightAware

A Delta Airlines spokesperson said ‘winter weather in portions of the U.S. and the Omicron variant continued to impact’ its holiday weekend flight schedule but that it was working to ‘reroute and substitute aircraft and crews.’

United Airlines also said it was working to rebook impacted passengers, while a Southwest Airlines spokesperson attributed all its cancellations to weather. 

‘The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week 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,’ United told DailyMail.com on Sunday. 

Flight cancellations and delays have been a recurring theme throughout 2021 as airlines have begun to ramp up their schedules.

However, despite the push for returning to travel, airlines have not been able to keep up with staffing demands after thousands of workers were driven from the industry when it collapsed in 2020.

In spite of rising coronavirus cases, millions are still flying, with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reporting 2.19 million people screened at airports across the country on Thursday, the highest figure since the uptick in holiday travel started a week ago.

Sunday was the fourth straight day of flight cancellations and delays as COVID continues to thin out the number of available crews

Sunday was the fourth straight day of flight cancellations and delays as COVID continues to thin out the number of available crews

Delta, United and JetBlue have blamed the Omicron variant of COVID-19 for staffing challenges that led to the disruptions (Pictured: Travelers in Miami on Dec. 23)

Delta, United and JetBlue have blamed the Omicron variant of COVID-19 for staffing challenges that led to the disruptions (Pictured: Travelers in Miami on Dec. 23)

On Wednesday, there were more people traveling through US airports than in 2019.

Although the number of people flying out of US airports has this year has matched 2019 levels – and at one point exceeded those levels – TSA said air travel on Christmas Eve sharply fell below pre-pandemic levels.

More than 1.7 million people passed through TSA checkpoints Friday, spokesperson Lisa Farbstein confirmed on Twitter. 

This is more than 800,000 people fewer than the 2.6 million screened on Christmas Eve in 2019. 

Yet, it is still significantly higher than the 846,520 people the agency screened on Dec. 24, 2020. 

Some vacationers said they were forced to avoid travel because they are waiting to get their COVID test results back or are too worried about getting home. 

But those willing to travel and faced with delays have been left frustrated and raging at the airlines, with some saying they will now be forced to drive 12 hours to get home in time. 

In spite of rising coronavirus cases, millions are still flying with TSA reporting 2.19 million people screened at airports across the country on Thursday, the highest figure since the uptick in holiday travel started a week ago

In spite of rising coronavirus cases, millions are still flying with TSA reporting 2.19 million people screened at airports across the country on Thursday, the highest figure since the uptick in holiday travel started a week ago

Of this year's holiday travelers, 6.4 million will be boarding airplanes, more than twice the 2.3 million that did so during the holiday season during the height of COVID in 2020. In 2019, 7.33 million holiday travelers traveled by airline, compared to 6.7 million in 2018 and 6.5 million in 2017

Of this year’s holiday travelers, 6.4 million will be boarding airplanes, more than twice the 2.3 million that did so during the holiday season during the height of COVID in 2020. In 2019, 7.33 million holiday travelers traveled by airline, compared to 6.7 million in 2018 and 6.5 million in 2017

‘My flight was cancelled right before take off… .and then delayed Christmas Eve more than two hours. Thankfully crew was from Chicago and wanted to go home for Xmas too,’ one user wrote early Sunday morning. 

‘Finally landed this early AM. Still grateful, but annoyed cause you guys are usually reliable for me,’ the user tweeted at Southwest Airlines. 

Some said they were left waiting on planes for hours without updates, others said they were left waiting in long lines to check into flights while others said flights were just flat out cancelled with no warning, leaving them stranded for the holidays. 

Enjoli Rodriguez, 25, whose Delta Air Lines Inc flight from Los Angeles to Lexington, Kentucky, was canceled on Christmas Eve, was one of thousands still stranded on Sunday.

Delta rebooked Rodriguez through Detroit, but that flight was delayed so she missed the connection.

Speaking from the Detroit airport on Sunday, Rodriguez told Reuters she was surrounded by angry passengers, flustered airline representatives and families with young children in limbo.

‘I’ve run into a lot of people sharing their horror stories here. We’re all just stuck in Michigan, Detroit, heading different places,’ Rodriguez, who was rebooked on a later flight to Kentucky, said. 

American Bobsledder Elana Meyers, who is in Latvia as she tries to qualify for the coming 2022 Winter Olympics in China, expressed dismay at the travel disarray.

‘My Dad is trying get to Riga, Latvia, to watch my son as I try to qualify for my 4th Olympics. His flight was canceled and they can’t rebook him for some reason- he’s a million-miler on delta!’ Meyers tweeted Saturday, on Christmas.

‘This past week was one of the hardest weeks of my life and what was really helping me get through was knowing that my Dad was coming to Latvia to help take care of Nico.’ 

Olympic bobsledder Elana Meyers expressed dismay at the travel disarray on Christmas

Olympic bobsledder Elana Meyers expressed dismay at the travel disarray on Christmas

Other travelers took to Twitter to express their frustrations with their respective airlines

Other travelers took to Twitter to express their frustrations with their respective airlines

Some experts allege the staffing shortages impacting air travel may be partly caused by vaccine mandates.

All United Airlines US employees had to be vaccinated by October 25, except for those with medical and religious exemptions and all Delta Air Lines employees must be vaccinated or pay an additional $200 per month for their company-sponsored healthcare plan. Only six out of 13,000 pilots working for United Airlines have been fired as a result of not meeting the mandate deadline, and at least 99% of workers were vaccinated.

But Delta, where 99 percent of workers are vaccinated, cited potential inclement weather and the impact of the Omicron variant for the cancellations, saying they have ‘exhausted all options and resources – including rerouting and substitutions of aircraft and crews to cover scheduled flying – before canceling around 90 flights for Friday.’  

Travelers should brace for long waits at airports and lengthy traffic on the roads as an estimated 109 million people are set to travel between December 23rd and January 2nd this year – a 34 percent increase from the same time period in 2020. 

A dramatic 27.7 million more people than in 2020 will travel 50 miles or more this holiday season, with eight percent less travelers than the same point in 2019.

Of those travelers, 6.4 million will be boarding airplanes, more than twice the 2.3 million that did so during the holiday season during the height of COVID in 2020.  In 2019, 7.33 million holiday travelers traveled by airline, compared to 6.7 million in 2018 and 6.5 million in 2017.

Travelers queue up at the United American Airlines check-in kiosks in the terminal of Denver International Airport on Sunday as airlines cancel hundreds of flights

Travelers queue up at the United American Airlines check-in kiosks in the terminal of Denver International Airport on Sunday as airlines cancel hundreds of flights

A traveler is helped by an agent at a check-in kiosk at the American Airlines counter in Denver International Airport on Sunday

A traveler is helped by an agent at a check-in kiosk at the American Airlines counter in Denver International Airport on Sunday

Meanwhile, a Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd cruise ship turned back to Ft. Lauderdale, CNN reported, and on Sunday a Carnival Corp ship returned to Miami after COVID was detected onboard, although it was unclear if the cases were Omicron.

Carnival said ‘a small number on board were isolated due to a positive COVID test’ on board its Carnival Freedom ship, which again left Miami later on Sunday for its next trip with another round of passengers.

‘The rapid spread of the Omicron variant may shape how some destination authorities with limited medical resources may view even a small number of cases, even when they are being managed with our vigorous protocols. Should it be necessary to cancel a port, we will do our best to find an alternative destination,’ it said in a statement.

A Holland America ship also returned to San Diego on Sunday after Mexican authorities banned it from docking in Puerto Vallarta citing onboard cases, NBC News and Fox News reported. Carnival, which owns Holland America, did not address that reported incident in its statement.

Representatives for Royal Caribbean did not respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.

Overall, COVID-19 outbreaks altered at least six sailings in the past week, the Washington Post reported, echoing the turmoil facing the industry after COVID erupted in early 2020.

Testing woes have compounded the travel angst, as many Americans scrambled for their status amid long lines and lack of at-home test kits amid the holiday travels.

‘We’ve obviously got to do better. I mean, I think things will improve greatly as we get into January, but that doesn’t help us today and tomorrow,’ Fauci told ABC’s ‘This Week.’

Less than three weeks after Omicron was first detected in the US, it accounted for over 73 percent of all new cases as of Monday, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Less than three weeks after Omicron was first detected in the US, it accounted for over 73 percent of all new cases as of Monday, according to data from the CDC

Less than three weeks after Omicron was first detected in the US, it accounted for over 73 percent of all new cases as of Monday, according to data from the CDC

Christmas Day COVID figures show that the United States has recorded a total of 151,915 new infections – just 39,000 fewer than last year – and a total of 4,644 cases of Omicron

America also saw 1,013 deaths in the most recent 24 hours. Seven day average deaths currently sit at 1,542, according to analysis from DailyMail.com

Christmas Day COVID figures show that the United States has recorded a total of 151,915 new infections – just 39,000 fewer than last year – and a total of 4,644 cases of Omicron. 

America also saw 1,013 deaths in the most recent 24 hours. Seven day average deaths currently sit at 1,542, according to analysis from DailyMail.com.

On Christmas Eve, more than 69,000 Americans were hospitalized with Covid-19, the US Department of Health and Human Services reported, up around two percent from last week. 

On Friday morning, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the Empire State had once again broke its daily COVID infection record, with 44,000 new cases. That was up from 38,600 the day before, and almost 20,000 higher than cases were on Tuesday, with Hochul blaming Omicron for that surge.

Those infected with Omicron represent a tiny fraction of the true total, because the US only sequences a very small proportion of positive PCR tests to identify which strain caused a person’s infection. 

The CDC estimates that at least 73 percent of all new COVID infections are being caused by Omicron, with that figure as high as 92 percent in five states including New York and New Jersey. 

Globally, there has been a surge in cases, with the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures revealing there were 1.69 million infections per day in the week up to December 19 – last Sunday – rising 55 percent compared to the previous week. 

In the UK, London is being battered hardest by the new variant, with one in 20 infected with the virus and ten of the worst hit postcodes in England located within a three square mile stretch. 

As the variant continues to spread, President Joe Biden has urged Americans to get vaccinated.

‘We should all be concerned about Omicron, but not panicked,’ the president tweeted Thursday. 

‘If you’re fully vaccinated — and especially if you got boosted — you’re highly protected. But if you’re unvaccinated, you’re at higher risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19, getting hospitalized, and dying.’

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, just 72.8 percent of all eligible Americans had received their first COVID dose by Wednesday, and 61.7 percent are fully vaccinated.

Of those who are eligible for a booster shot, just 30 percent have received one. 

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