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Travelers Left Stranded As Staff Shortages Force Cancellations

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) —  After over 2,500 flights were grounded Saturday, thousands of travelers were left stranded at the airport, waiting until their name is called for the next available flight.

"I've had to rebook my flight reservation like four or five times," one traveler said to CBS.

The grounded flights are causing massive delays and cancellations during a weekend when an estimated 10 million passengers are expected to fly throughout the country this holiday weekend. In LAX alone over 540,000 people are expected to catch their flights this weekend. On Saturday, at LAX there have been 280 delays and 134 cancellations.

Airlines are attributing the cancelations and delays to winter weather and the highly contagious Omicron variant which has infected many airport workers, with over 1,700 TSA agents out sick with COVID-19.

"Airlines did not see this new variant coming," said travel editor Brian Sumers. "If pilots and flight attendants and gate agents can't go to work, how can airlines run the schedule that they sold to the public months ago?

United Airlines has offered triple pay to incentivize pilots in the hopes of easing January shortages. A flight attendants union is hitting back against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after the agency cut the isolation time for infected individuals to five days instead of the original 10.

"The problem is that now we're adding more sick people into our ranks," flight attendant Sara Nelson.  We're going to have more flight crew who are sick."

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