PHOENIX - It was a stressful end to the holiday week for many travelers spending hours waiting in airports hoping to get a flight out, and that includes those departing from Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport.
Just a day after the new year was rung in, Sky Harbor was busy with people traveling home after the holiday season, but a lot of them say they're getting frustrated by long lines, delays and cancellations.
Kim Meyer-Lucas is trying to get back to Calgary, Canada and says, "It's absolutely been a huge inconvenience." She's been rerouted several times.
Her first flight out of Mesa Gateway the previous day was delayed several times and then canceled. Now she's working to catch a flight out of Sky Harbor.
"We were rerouted to leave at 6 p.m. to Edmonton, Canada," she said. In the process, she and her husband will have to rent a car in Edmonton and from there, drive about three hours home to Calgary.
Even that plan, she says, could change in a minute.
"I don't know what the final outcome will be," Meyer-Lucas said. "I just want to get home."
Across the nation on Jan. 2, there have been more than 5,000 delays and 2,400 cancellations – A continuation of the mass cancellations that began Christmas week.
Bad weather and the spread of the omicron variant are to blame for much of this, and now airlines are dealing with staffing shortages caused by COVID-19 infections.
"When we left the house, the flight got delayed a half-hour then got here and the delays started incrementing up and change every 5-10 minutes to be another six-minute delay," traveler David Stovall said.
Jolene Schlichting's Spirit Airlines flight was canceled. "My ticket coming back was canceled, and I tried calling them for 24 hours and nobody got back to me," she explained.
She got rebooked on another airline, and even with a two-hour delay, she says she's grateful just to have a seat.
With all the cancellations, it's recommended to get to the airport as early as possible and to check the schedule before you get to the airport.
Monday after New Year's
On Jan. 3 at Sky Harbor, there have been almost 100 cancellations, and more than 2,000 nationwide.
Frustrations are high as travelers try to figure out a new plan to get to their destinations, and for others, they have already gotten through all of those major logistical obstacles.
Airlines upping pay to ease issues
United Airlines will temporarily increase pay for eligible pilots as an incentive while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the travel industry.
The airline decided to spend more money to fill empty cockpits. The company reached a deal with the pilots’ union to pay 3.5 times normal wages to pilots who pick up extra trips through Monday and triple pay for flights between Tuesday and Jan. 29.
Reuters reported Spirit's flight attendants are receiving double pay on any work through Jan. 4, according to their union.
- United, Spirit airlines to temporarily increase pay for pilots
- Travelers face more canceled flights on New Year's Day
- Flight delays, cancellations at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport continue to trouble travelers
- Arizona COVID-19 testing: Where you can go and how to make an appointment
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