Although the holiday season is over, the flight delays are only increasing due to inclement weather and staffing shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which shows no signs of slowing any time soon.
Across the country, 12,721 total delays have been reported by FlightAware.com as of 6 PM EST on Monday evening. 4,758 flights were outright canceled, stalling many travelers looking to head back to work after the start of the new year. Yesterday, on Sunday, January 2, 19,740 flights were delayed and 4,465 were canceled.
An FAA spokesperson told Fox Business warned that “Weather and heavy seasonal traffic are likely to result in some travel delays in the coming days.”
“Like the rest of the U.S. population, an increased number of FAA employees have tested positive for COVID-19,” they continued. “To maintain safety, traffic volume at some facilities could be reduced, which might result in delays during busy periods.”
Travelers Are Stuck In Airports, Just Waiting To Get Home
One traveler, Natasha Enos, told the Associated Press that she was only supposed to short layover on a flight from Washington to San Francisco. Instead, she ended up sleeping at the Denver International Airport on Saturday night.
Enos described the airport as “absolute mayhem,” adding that she was not aware that her flight to California was canceled until she had already landed in Denver. She rushed over to the baggage claim area, only to find it packed with other stranded travelers.
“It was a lot of people in a very small space and not everybody was masking,” she said. “There were a lot of exhausted kids and some families were so stressed out.”
Other travelers in Detroit described a similar scene of chaos. A woman named Jennifer drove two hours to arrive at the airport on time for her flight, only to find out that it had been canceled after she had arrived.
“I also had to wake up at the butt crack of dawn to get up here and get dropped off,” she explained. “So I haven’t had enough coffee yet.”
“You can’t get mad at them [the service workers], which sucks because I would really like to yell at somebody right now, but it’s not their fault,” Jennifer added. She said, in the best-case scenario, that she’ll be home tomorrow night.
Things weren’t looking any better for a Detroit native Andre Vaughn, who was stuck in the McNamara Terminal after his flight to Los Angeles was canceled.
“We were supposed to go to a bachelor party in Vegas,” he explained. “We were supposed to go out there a couple of days early to hang out with family and friends.” He said that he was considering driving to make it to the wedding on time.
Flights Could Be Delayed Further Due To 5G Rollout
Companies AT&T and Verizon have both refused requests from the United States government to delay the launch of their new 5G services, which is currently scheduled for Wednesday, January 5. The Airlines for America trade group has warned that the new 5G rollout is going to lead to even more flight delays in the near future.
Carter Yang, managing director of industry communications for Airlines for America, stated, “The airworthiness directive issued by the FAA on Dec. 7 identified safety concerns and potential restrictions that will be highly disruptive to the National Airspace System, air travelers, the shipping public, the global supply chain, and our employees.”
Yang added, “Without appropriate mitigations, the 5G deployment around airports could disrupt as many as 345,000 passenger flights — impacting 32 million travelers — in addition to 5,400 cargo flights each year in the form of delays, diversions, or cancelations.”