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COVID, Weather Prompts Delta To Cancel Nearly 100 Christmas Eve Flights

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Holiday travel just got more stressful. On Christmas Eve morning, hundreds of flights are being cancelled last minute across the country.

Nationwide, Delta Air Lines has canceled nearly 100 flights on one of the busiest holiday travel days of the year. About 13 of their flights coming in or going out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport were canceled.

Delta says this is mainly due to problematic weather in other parts of the country and the COVID-19 Omicron variant taking out a lot of their staff.

The airline said the situation has left the airline exhausting all options, including last-minute rescheduling of flights. Delta's full flight schedule for Friday had more than 3,000 flights.

"We apologize to our customers for the delay in their holiday travel plans," the airline 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."

At MSP Airport, they're mainly seeing short routes being cancelled, like flights to Rapid City and Milwaukee, as well as cross country flights to Seattle and Los Angeles.

WCCO spoke with one Delta traveler who flew into Minneapolis from Iceland. He's been closely monitoring the situation as a snow storm is moving into his final destination, which is Jackson Hole, hoping his flight does not get added to the cancellation list.

"Everyone has to be exhausted. They are working long hours, same with healthcare workers ... it's stress upon stress. The holiday season is stressful anyway and then to have Omicron on top of that I can't imagine what they are dealing with right now," Justin Burr said.

A number of United flights are also being cancelled across the country as well, but so far no United flights out of MSP have been impacted. The New York Times reports more than 2,000 flights have been canceled globally.

Kristine Jobe and her daughter live in Rochester and they're headed to Bismarck, N.D. to see her parents for the holiday and ran into an unexpected roadblock.

"Once my daughter and I got to the Rochester Airport, we saw that our flight had been cancelled and the whole airport was vacant," said Jobe. "I didn't receive any texts or messages about the cancellation, so it was a surprise when we got to the airport."

Jobe tried calling Delta Air Lines, and quickly learned many people were having the same problem.

"I did try to call the 1-800 number and there was over a four-hour wait," said Jobe.

The Future Ticketing Assistance desk at MSP Airport was very busy helping people find new options.

"They're telling us that it's going to take three days to get us anywhere near L.A. or Hawaii, where we need to go, which to me seems a little crazy," said Nuuriya Osman.

Trying to get to Hawaii with her family for their first vacation since before the pandemic, Osman said their connection to Los Angeles on Delta was cancelled.

"We were looking forward to this because we haven't been on vacation in the last couple years and this was supposed to be a big trip for us and we don't really know what to do now," said Diriye Osman.

Delta rebooked as many people as they could for same-day travel.

Jobe and her daughter got the Christmas gift they didn't expect, a new flight and a whole lot of gratitude.

"You just got to go with the rolls of the dice, trouble shoot and make the best of it and look on the bright side. At least we'll still be able to see my folks," said Jobe.

Make sure to check your flight schedule closely, if you're flying later today, as things could change. To see Friday's flights and arrivals at MSP, click here.

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