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Omicron brings element of uncertainty to Louisville air travel

More than 3,500 flights had to be canceled globally for Christmas Eve and Christmas.
More than 3,500 flights had to be canceled globally for Christmas Eve and Christmas.(WAVE 3 News)
Published: Dec. 24, 2021 at 5:34 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - On Christmas Eve, passengers were leaving Louisville with back-up plans after more than 3,500 flights had to be canceled globally for Christmas Eve and Christmas.

The problem erupted when airlines crews began calling in sick with the COVID-19 omicron variant.

United and Delta were hit particularly hard with more than 300 flights canceled between them. As a result, no cancelations outbound, but flights into Louisville were a question mark.

Lisa Tart of Elizabethtown got to the airport an hour and a half early hoping to greet her grandson after he missed a flight the day before.

”Yeah, it’s a little frustrating,” Tartt said, “but he was flying out of Washington, D.C. so of course you know there’s probably a million people there and traffic was crazy.”

Ground support seemed essential, as families, not knowing how many more flights could be canceled, find ways to make their Christmas connections. For many, the reward of being together at Christmas is apparently worth the risk of disruption.

Sandy and Jim Vaverick departed Louisville on their way to Wisconsin with a connection in Detroit.

”If something happens, we’ll deal with it as we go,” Sandy Vaverick said.

“I don’t think we’ll be stuck (in Detroit),” Jim Vaverick said. “We got friends, we got family, they’d come and save us. So, not too far away from Wisconsin.”

Lucas Ranburger was making similar contingencies as he was seeing his two young sons off on a flight to Mississippi with a connection in Atlanta. If their connection was canceled, Ranburger said he would hit the road to get them.

“I’m driving down there,” Ranburger said. “I’ll be there, 100%. Six hours to Atlanta, no problem.”

The cancelations created and element of uncertainty at a time when air travel looked like it was back to normal. Scheduled traffic at SDF is back to 99% of a holiday record set before COVID in 2019.

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