Surging COVID cases combined with bad weather to disrupt hundreds of flights across the U.S. on Friday, with Newark Liberty International Airport at the epicenter of the holiday-travel meltdown.
Newark was the most troubled airport in the nation on Christmas Eve, according to aviation tracking website FlightAware. As of 4:30 p.m., 147 flights had been delayed at the airport and 77 others canceled, the site said. That followed more than 500 delays or cancellations on Thursday.
The airport, though its Twitter feed, warned people to show up at least two hours prior to departure times. Travelers took to social media to complain of epically long lines and blown-up Christmas plans.
Delta and United airlines have canceled hundreds of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day flights. They cited crew shortages due to sick calls from the fast spreading omicron variant and pockets of weather around the country.
Nationwide, FlightAware recorded more than 2,300 U.S. delays on Friday alone and 631 flights canceled.
"The nationwide spike in omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation," United spokesperson Josh Freed said in a statement. "As a result, we’ve unfortunately had to cancel some flights. … We're sorry for the disruption."
@EWRairport @TSA my sister and her 2 yr old missed their flight because of YOUR negligence and incompetence. How are you not prepared for the biggest travel day of the year?? Now Christmas is ruined!! #ewr #betterbusinessbureau #tsa #sucks #ChristmasisRUINED
— Deokie (@deoksnojokes) December 24, 2021
Freed added that United is notifying impacted customers and rebooking “as many people as possible."
Delta said late Friday morning that it expects the cancellations to continue into Sunday, a busy travel day ahead of the new work week.
"We apologize to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans,'' Delta spokeswoman Kate Modolo said in a statement. "Delta people are working hard to get them to where they need to be as quickly and as safely as possible on the next available flight.''
USA Today staff writers Dawn Gilbertson and Baily Schulz contributed to this article.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Newark Airport flight cancellations snarl Christmas travel