ATLANTA — Many travelers are stuck at airports or hotels right now due to flight cancellations, and plenty of experts are pinning the cause as a surge in the COVID-19 omicron variant. Airline staffing shortages, many of which are due to crews who are positive with the virus, are only compounding the problem.
“We’re coming from Boise, Idaho to St. Martin," Domenic Jones said.
Domenic and Haley Jones didn't make it very far.
"Our flight got canceled this morning at 1 o'clock, and we've been rebooked to Monday morning just without any notice. We had no idea that the flight was canceled," Jones said.
More than 900 flights have been canceled on Christmas, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware. Seventeen percent of them are at Hartsfield-Jackson.
“Now we're required to get another COVID test because it's only valid for 48 hours," Jones said. "We had it submitted, we had it all cleared, and then that expired, so now we have to go pay another $150 to get the test and then we'll be on our way, but it's just been a headache!"
The Jones' aren't the only ones left with a headache and a dent in their wallets.
“I have a canceled ticket, so I have to get it reinstated to go somewhere else. I’m grappling on whether I got back to Texas or back to Montana," Holley Broughton said.
Local health experts said it's the perfect storm for flight delays with the surge in breakthrough COVID-19 cases.
“There's no vaccine that is 100% protective, not any one. It's expected that there will be a certain number of people, a number of people who might get a breakthrough infection, even if they've been fully vaccinated," said Fulton County District Health Director Dr. Lynn Paxton.
More than 200 flights nationwide are already canceled for Sunday with about a quarter of them at Hartsfield-Jackson, but Jones said there's still reason to feel the holiday cheer.
“We’re all healthy and together on Christmas, so that’s good," Jones said. "It sucks that we’ve two days in a hotel, but eventually we’ll get there.”