Travel experts offer advice as Phoenix's Sky Harbor experiences flight cancelations, delays

The day after Christmas is usually one of the busiest travel days of the year as lots of people head home from holiday vacations.

Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport was busy with a constant flow of people inside and outside the airport on Dec. 26. The biggest issue, however, wasn't traffic near the airport, but, flight delays and cancelations.

John and Ava Kolaczynski are looking to fly back home to Chicago and their flight was delayed at least four hours. "Fingers crossed, be prepared, wearing our masks, just making sure we’re giving ourselves time and just make sure we’re ready for anything right now," John said.

As usual, holiday travel can come with a few hiccups, like diverted flights, delays and cancelations. On top of those are also preflight COVID-19 tests.

Carl and Chuck Copeland stopped by to get their COVID-19 test because they fly out of Phoenix on Dec. 27.

According to, there were more than 4,000 delayed flights across the United States and 1,100 cancelations on Dec. 26. At Sky Harbor, they saw more than 120 delays and over 21 cancelations.

"Just made sure to get here early. We knew there were some delays the last couple days, and with the weather and stuff. So just wanted to make sure we gave ourselves enough time to get settled and not be rushed," John said.

The cancelations and delays weren't just Christmas Day and the day after. Airlines have been dealing with disruptions for the last few days, even weeks.

Delta, United, and JetBlue blamed the omicron variant for staffing problems that then led to cancelations, all while the industry is already suffering from a lack of staffing.

Officials with Sky Harbor say if you're traveling through, it’s always a good idea to give yourself plenty of time, check your flight status before you arrive, and utilize their Sky Tram and outside parking lots.

Delays, cancelations continue after Christmas travel

More than 2 million passengers passed through TSA checkpoints on Dec. 26 and on Dec. 27, the number will likely be the same, if not extremely close.

Zach and Dan Somberg, father and son, said they got to the airport more than 2 hours before their flight – following the guidance of travel experts.

Aidan Keanaaina from Colorado says, "It was pretty busy. I mean not as bad as some holiday travel I’ve done before but not bad at all."

For some, it was their first trip since the pandemic began.

Shaun Oliver traveling from New Orleans to Phoenix says, "We had a baby and didn’t want to take the chances with COVID and the new baby."

Holiday travel isn’t always smooth sailing. On Dec. 27, passengers were met with delays, diversions and cancelations.

Dean Anderson’s flight to California is delayed six hours. "Well, you can’t get too upset because you can’t change what you can’t control," he said.

For others, it was their first time enduring the busy holiday traffic. Peggy and Jeff Nowak said, "We’ve never, no, never ever first time ever," about the influx of travelers they saw come through the airport.

Many international travelers are having to arrive even earlier to get tested for COVID-19.

Sarah Vicker is traveling to London, and says, "Well, we got here at 2:30. Our flights not until 8:30. A lot of places will say they can give the results within three days, and you can’t risk it," she said. shows there were more than 5,000 delayed flights across the United States and 1,200 cancellations. At Sky Harbor, they’re reporting about 200 delays and over 96 cancellations in the last of couple days and into Dec. 28.

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