SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (KPIX) — The new year flew in much like 2021 flew out — with chaotic airports and grounded planes.
More than 230 flights were delayed and 66 canceled at San Francisco International Airport Sunday evening as omicron and bad weather across the country drove yet another day of headaches for travelers and airlines.
“My dad was with me … and his flight somehow got canceled too,” said Carter Nelson of San Jose. “He had to reschedule and it was really stressful at the airport in Cabo having to figure that out but we did make it home unscathed somehow.”
Nelson returned to SFO after a family trip to Mexico, one he had already rescheduled twice due to the pandemic.
“I ended up having to get a test, like, two days before the flight. I was scrambling to get a test done — a PCR test done. That was super stressful and it was pretty on the table of, like, we were going to go or not,” he added.
Nelson said finding a test in Mexico to return home was also nerve-wracking.
Bay Area airports from the South Bay to San Francisco saw dozens of delays and cancellations every day of the weekend.
The Beach family was headed to the East Coast, luckily without any delays on Sunday.
“Seems to be very smooth so far,” said Clark Beach of Napa.
Across the country, the highly contagious omicron variant has thinned airport staffing. More than 1,700 TSA agents are out with COVID.
“Airlines did not see this new variant coming. If pilots and flight attendants and gate agents can’t go to work, how can they run the schedule that they sold to the public months ago?” asked Brian Sumers, travel editor at Skift.
United Airlines’ solution is to offer triple pay to pilots in hopes of easing January shortages.
For those visiting the Bay Area like Wilmiriam Cotto and her mom, minimizing the risk of COVID was a high priority over the holidays.
“We were just here to see our family so we were just staying at home. Se got tested before, we got tested after, so we were just laying low as much as possible,” she said.