Flights canceled at O’Hare on Christmas due to COVID-19 staffing shortages


CHICAGO — After heading home for the holidays, many travelers are hitting a pandemic speed bump.

Dozens of flights out of O’Hare were canceled on Christmas amid COVID-19 staffing shortages for airlines.

The flight-tracking website FlightAware reported a thousand flights were canceled across the country Christmas Day.

Chicago-based United Airlines along with Delta and Jet Blue each canceled about 10 percent of their Saturday flights, blaming omicron-induced staffing shortages.

American Airlines canceled 90 flights, about 3 percent of its total, for the same reason, citing COVID-19-related sick calls.

As of Saturday evening, O’Hare International Airport saw 68 cancellations. Midway has one. Nationwide, 250 flights have already been canceled for Sunday.

A United spokeswoman says the variant’s impact on staffing was unexpected – and it’s unclear when flights will return to normal. Still, for some passengers, the unknowns are worth it.

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Some European countries are trying to alleviate staffing shortages by reducing the length of required quarantine. Delta’s CEO has asked the Biden administration to do the same, but so far, shortened isolation rules apply only to health care workers.

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