COVID forces flight cancellations in Chicago and nationwide – CBS Chicago

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Flexibility and patience are required if you are flying these days.

Between Omicron, bad weather and staff shortages, air travel is a major wildcard over the coming days and weeks. CBS 2’s Meredith Barack reports from O’Hare International Airport with a glimpse of how a Chicago band is trying to make the most of the situation.

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The Chicago group is just one small example of the thousands of travelers whose flights were canceled on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. They packed their bags and came up with plan B.

“When we launched this trip in early summer 2021, everything was really clear, looking good. Morocco was doing very well with COVID. “

It was a trip that Rabbi Shalom Garfinkel and Project 613, a group of young Jewish professionals, were eager and enthusiastic about. But like so many travelers this past weekend, things did not go as planned.

“The table was literally set after months of work and then Omicron struck,” Garfinkel said. “The next day they canceled flights until the end of the year.”

The silver lining – or the power of the pivot – as Rabbi Garfinkel likes to call it, is that the group learned of the cancellations very quickly and were able to quickly change reservations. They are now taking advantage of Poland instead.

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Others, however, weren’t as lucky as we are now with thousands of cancellations. A United spokesperson said they had at least 115 cancellations today due to Omicron staff issues.

Throughout the weekend, they contacted passengers early if their flight was canceled to give them time to book or make other plans. So far, around 50% of United passengers have arrived at their final destination early or within four hours of their originally scheduled flight.

“Airlines cannot operate flights without the required number of pilots and flight attendants. Safety comes first, ”said Henry Harteveldt, Travel Industry Analyst.

Late Monday afternoon, several airlines made their wish come true when CDC updated its COVID guidelines, reducing the quarantine period from 10 days to five.

“Honestly, if it’s good enough for hospital staff, for nurses and doctors, I think it should be good enough for the airline industry,” Harteveldt said.

Passengers said on Monday that things were going well for them so far. Hopefully it foreshadows air travel for the remainder of 2021.

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