Omicron is turning out to be a Grinch this holiday season, with the fast-spreading coronavirus variant causing some flights to be canceled this Christmas.
As of 7:30 p.m. ET, Delta Air Lines has canceled 84 flights on Christmas Day while United Airlines has canceled 27. More flights have been canceled on Christmas Eve: 121 from United and 79 from Delta, according to flight tracker FlightAware.
Delta did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but United blamed a spike in omicron infections among crew members for the cancellations.
“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. … We’re sorry for the disruption,” according to a statement from United spokesperson Josh Freed.
Freed added that United is notifying impacted customers and rebooking “as many people as possible.”
►Nervous about travel (again?):What to know about airline, hotel and cruise cancellation policies as omicron surges
►Traveling for the holidays? Here are the worst times to hit the road.
The cancellations come as airline industry leaders urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to shorten its guidance on how long fully vaccinated people with a breakthrough infection should self isolate.
JetBlue, Delta and airline industry trade group Airlines for America have each sent letters to the CDC asking the agency to alter its guidance on how long vaccinated people with a breakthrough infection should self isolate. Current CDC guidance says 10 days, but some leaders are pushing for five with a negative test.
“The Omicron surge may exacerbate personnel shortages and create significant disruptions to our workforce and operations,” Airlines for America CEO Nick Calio wrote in a Thursday letter to the CDC. “Much has changed since the initial guidance was developed and issued in 2020 and we believe that variables such as vaccine rates, improved treatments and mask mandates should be considered as the pandemic and science continue to evolve.”
Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz.