DETROIT – Holiday travel is more stressful than ever right now as hundreds of flights across the United States get canceled due to COVID-19.
President Joe Biden’s administration hasn’t said whether a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel is necessary, but as flight cancellations continue because of the virus at Detroit Metro Airport, travelers are getting more and more frustrated.
“I probably won’t get home until after New Year’s now,” Florida resident Gino Nailon said.
Nailon is feeling the affects of the COVID cancellations after having four flights canceled by Delta and Spirit while traveling with a party of seven people.
“It’s at the point where you try calling in (and) it’s a five-hour wait to talk to them on the phone,” Nailon said.
The group is now considering renting a car and driving 22 hours home instead.
“If I can find one, because it’s seven passengers ... and that’s probable going to cost me about $1,000,” Nailon said.
Others were fortunate enough to get rebooked more easily.
“They rebooked us automatically,” Delta passenger Art Krieg said. “We don’t have a seat assignment, so we may not be able to sit together.”
“They put us on a better flight, actually,” Delta passenger Paul Duran said. “We got here earlier.”
Airlines are dealing with staffing shortages as the spread of the omicron variant forces pilots and cabin crew members to quarantine.
As those shortages continue to interrupt travel plans, Dr. Anthony Fauci said a vaccine mandate is something the Biden administration should consider. That’s a polarizing subject for travelers.
“If there’s the rule (that) says you have to have the shot to fly, well, then I don’t fly, and it’s my choice,” Duran said. “Find another route.”
“The sooner we prevent people who are infectious from traveling and exposing other people, the sooner we’ll get the infection rates back down and everyone can go back to normal,” Krieg said.
Experts expect COVID numbers to continue to rise in the upcoming days, so cancellations might do the same.