‘I’m going to lose my mind’: 2021, a year of air rage, canceled flights, harried airline staff and omicron — and it’s not over yet

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It’s been another year of tumultuous events for air travel—and New Year’s Eve is the final act.

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Thousands of flights have been canceled over Christmas and New Year’s Eve, as the COVID-19 Omicron version continued its rapid spread, straining employees at airports and airlines, while snow storms in some US regions caused a flurry of air pollution. made the challenging situation even worse.

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passengers And Crew expressed his disappointment online. a woman wrote on twitter TWTR,
+3.98%
About the busy holiday season: “Maybe none of you care or follow me for this kind of stuff, but f***, being a flight attendant during the holidays is no fun. I swear Am that if I get canceled or re-routed one more time, I’ll lose my mind.”

another passenger regretted About her canceled flight: “I tried to book again, but their website is down. I called. Spent hours on the phone just to talk to anyone. called again. Waited an hour and a half.” These sentiments have been expressed online during the holiday period.

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So far, 2,365 flights were canceled around the world on New Year’s Eve and 3,146 on Thursday, while 1,085 flights to or out of the US were canceled on New Year’s Eve and 1,438 on Thursday. According to FlightAware, which tracks real-time delays and cancellations. These figures are expected to increase further on Friday.

Among US airlines, Delta Air Lines DAL,
-0.31%
91 flights were canceled on New Year’s and 163 on Thursday, while United Airlines UAL,
-0.68%
204 flights were canceled on New Year’s Eve and 223 on Thursday. Airlines said they were working hard to re-route flights and replace aircraft and crew.

Many travelers are also worried about testing positive during the holiday, which would be a costly delay in their return home. Most airlines make it easy to cancel and get a refund online or through their app, and many offer flights with change at no charge. Some airlines offer text messaging within their apps.

Adit Damodaran, an economist at travel app Hopper, told Businesshala that outbound and inbound airfares are down 9% and 13% compared to 2019 prices, showing the decline in demand for air travel as more of a “success”. Cases of coronavirus have been reported in vaccinated people. ,

Increase in incidents of air strikes

Cause passengers to jump. only 62% According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US population is currently fully vaccinated, and only 33% have received a booster shot. COVID-19 vaccines have been shown Reduce the risk of hospitalization and death,

As the pandemic’s second Christmas has come and gone, cases have spiked with the spread of the highly communicable Omicron variant. have COVID-19 killed 820,355 American. An average of 344,543 new cases have been reported in the US per day, an increase of 181% in two weeks. New York Times Tracker.

The number of air-rage incidents has also increased over the past year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, as panicked and angry passengers battled about social distancing, whether to wear masks or not, and in some cases, the effects. appears to be in. drank alcohol during their flight.

According to FAA data released in late November, there were 5,300 such incidents this year, up from just hundreds per year before the pandemic. In a memo, Attorney General Merrick Garland directed US lawyers to take a tough stand and prosecute such cases. Bullying airline employees is against federal law.

“Passengers who attack, threaten or threaten violence against flight crew and flight attendants do more than harm those employees; they prevent the performance of vital duties that help ensure safe air travel.” do,” said Garland Statement Released last month.

“The Department of Justice is committed to using its resources to prevent violence, intimidation, threats of violence and other criminal behavior that endanger the safety of passengers, flight crew and flight attendants on commercial aircraft,” he said. He said such actions endanger everyone on the ship.

Vaccinated travelers are more likely to feel anxious about traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to one recent survey Voted by the company Morning Consult. 43 percent said they cut travel because of health concerns, while 41% did so because of fear of how other travelers would act.

The company said in a blog post, “Concerns over other people’s irresponsible actions have prompted many travelers to stay home or seek other forms of transportation, but they blame airlines for such incidents.” stop giving.” Forty-nine percent blame other passengers, while only 22% blame the airline or employees.

‘Sit down, Karen!’

one of the latest events It involved a woman who once had a small role in the television show, “Baywatch.” On her way back from the restroom, she was filmed standing on top of a seated passenger, asking her to put on her mask. “Mask up!” she screamed. “Sit down, Karen!” The man shouted back.

Neither the woman, now being called “Delta Karen”, nor the man were wearing face masks during the shout-out match. According to the footage, she was then seen hitting the man on the head. “You’re going to jail!” He shot back. The crew members stopped the woman and dragged her down the aisle.

When a Delta flight from Tampa to Atlanta finally landed on Thursday, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents took him into custody. “Situations like these are rare for the vast majority of our customers and Delta has zero tolerance for unruly behavior at our airports and our aircraft,” the airline said.

Passengers’ tolerance in 2021 is a more complex question. In an effort to ease pressure on airline staffing, US health officials this week shortened isolation times for people who test positive for COVID-19 but have no symptoms from 10 to five days , and cut down on the time close contacts need to self-quarantine.

On December 21, Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian, Medical Advisor Carlos Del Rio and Chief Health Officer Henry Ting wrote to Rochelle Valensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asking them to reconsider the agency’s recommended isolation times. .

“This guidance was developed in 2020 when the pandemic was in a different phase without effective vaccines and treatments. At Delta, over 90% of our employees are fully vaccinated, and those rates are increasing daily,” he wrote. He compared the plight of employees to that of healthcare, police, fire and public-transportation workers.

This will help employees who tested positive, those with negative COVID-19 tests, to return to work sooner, thus helping stranded passengers during the latest Omicron wave. But the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA International, an industry labor union, said it would do little to help airline workers overworked.

AFA President Sarah Nelson told CNN, “This guidance was done at the behest of Corporate America. It was not earmarked for public-health initiatives and, frankly, it makes our job even more difficult.” However, the labor union supports the need for a vaccine for domestic travel. There is currently none.

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