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Post-holiday travel disrupted by flight delays, cancellations

UPDATED: Mon., Dec. 27, 2021

A holiday wreath greets travelers at Spokane International Airport.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
A holiday wreath greets travelers at Spokane International Airport. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

A cold snap in the Pacific Northwest and a spike in omicron COVID-19 cases disrupted post-holiday travel as several airlines canceled and delayed flights nationwide Monday.

Airlines canceled more than 1,000 flights Monday, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.

As of 4 p.m. Monday, 43 flights were delayed and 12 were canceled at Spokane International Airport. Of the 43 delayed flights, 18 originated in Spokane, FlightAware data shows.

Utah-based SkyWest Airlines had 12 delayed flights, the greatest number out of all airlines at Spokane International Airport. The next highest was Horizon Airlines, which reported 11 delayed flights. Alaska Airlines had five delayed flights and one cancellation at Spokane International Airport.

Despite the disruptions, some passengers at Spokane International Airport reported minimal challenges with holiday travel.

Pullman residents Pat and Chris Mau, who returned home Monday afternoon from California, said their flight on Southwest Airlines was on time.

“We were monitoring the flights, but Southwest seemed to be OK,” Pat Mau said.

Spokane resident Jake Campeau said his two flights last week on Southwest Airlines were delayed by a half hour and an hour, respectively.

But Campeau had little trouble returning home to Spokane, he said, adding he checked flight data before leaving California.

“We were keeping an eye on it, but it never looked like flights would be canceled, just delayed,” he said.

The Associated Press reported airlines canceled more than 4,000 flights since Friday as the omicron variant spread among flight crews and winter weather caused ground delays at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, a hub for Alaska Airlines.

Delta, United, JetBlue and American said the coronavirus was causing staffing problems. European and Australian-based airlines also canceled holiday season flights due to coronavirus, but weather and other factors played a role as well, the Associated Press reported.

Winter weather in the Pacific Northwest led to nearly 250 flight cancellations on Alaska Airlines in Seattle on Sunday. Alaska Airlines canceled an additional 214 flights Monday due to weather.

With forecasts calling for bitter cold temperatures and snow Thursday, more flights could be canceled throughout the next several days, Alaska Airlines said on its website.

SkyWest said it had more cancellations than normal during the weekend and on Monday after bad weather affected several of its hubs, according to the Associated Press.

Flight cancellations and delays are occurring at one of the busiest times of the year for air travel. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration screened more than 2.1 million travelers Sunday.

Todd Woodard, spokesman for the Spokane International Airport, advises passengers to closely monitor flight status changes via airline websites.

“For those picking up a friend or family member, visit our website spokaneairports.net for real-time flight information,” he said. “The flight information is dynamic and you can even trace the flight while it is in air.”

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