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Air Travelers Greet New Year Stuck in Airports

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (KPIX) -- On the first day of 2022, airlines across the world canceled thousands of flights, due to a combination of inclement weather and the omicron variant affecting flight crews and operational staff.

When David Gurll showed up at San Francisco International Airport on New Year Day, he figured he'd quickly be on a flight headed back home to Tucson. But what was supposed to be a quick trip turned out to become an all day affair.

"United Airlines canceled it," he said. "Even though I checked before coming to the airport, I didn't find out until I got to the ticket counter."

As of late Saturday afternoon, 57 flights scheduled to arrive at or depart from SFO were canceled, according to There were also 12 cancellations at the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport and another 12 at Oakland International Airport.

"I worked for Delta Airlines for 22 years. I understand the problems that come up that are beyond the control of the air carrier," Gurll said. "Sometimes, you're not going to get where you want to get to, when you want to get there."

Many major airlines, including United, Delta and JetBlue, said the surging omicron variant is directly impacting their flight crews and operational staff, which is leading to flight cancellations.

KPIX interviewed traveler Austin Shah at SFO on Saturday. He didn't have to deal with a flight cancellation but said the current situation adds an extra layer of stress.

"It definitely does because you're going into a situation where you might have trouble getting back. If you have plans that are relying on you getting back at a certain time, that definitely adds a lot of stress," he said. "I don't want to have to deal with these issues. I hope they don't come up."

Airlines have already canceled more than a thousand flights originally scheduled for Sunday. JetBlue has canceled approximately 1,280 flights between Dec. 30 and Jan. 13, according to an airline spokesperson.

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