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Flight delays, cancellations hit Logan airport for fifth straight day

Travelers wait in line for American flights to check their bags at Logan Airport on Christmas Day. TOPIC: 26loganErin Clark/Globe Staff

For the fifth straight day, flight delays and cancellations plagued travelers at Logan International Airport, a result of staffing shortages tied to rising COVID-19 cases that have grounded or delayed more than 10,000 US flights during the holiday travel season.

By 4 p.m. Tuesday, 144 flights arriving at or departing from Logan had been delayed and 50 canceled, according to the website FlightAware, which tracks flight cancellations. The early totals were down from 207 delays and 50 cancellations listed for the Boston airport Monday, and 212 delays and 54 cancellations recorded on Sunday.

Some of the largest US-based airlines — including Delta, United, and JetBlue — have said that the surging Omicron variant has caused staffing shortages and forced them to cancel flights. Since Friday, airlines have canceled nearly 5,000 flights to, from, or inside the United States, with over 1,000 U.S. cancellations on Tuesday, according to FlightAware.

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Inclement weather has also played a role in some of the disarray at Logan, causing Cape Cod-headquartered Cape Air, which operates smaller aircraft, to cancel more than 40 of its flights on Saturday.

To make matters worse at Logan, travelers seeking to utilize the airport’s COVID-19 testing sites are still seeing long waits at peak travel periods. Last week, as passengers took to the airport in droves to fly for the holidays, some reported waiting in line for up to four hours.

The company that runs the sites, XpresCheck, said Tuesday that travelers can book appointments ahead of time to avoid a long wait. Wait times vary depending how busy the airport is, said XpresCheck spokeswoman Julie Ferguson. She did not specify how long travelers are waiting for tests on average.

“Naturally, the times of day when the airport is the busiest, then the demand is the highest and the lines can get long,” Ferguson said in an e-mail. “There are other times of day where this is no line because there aren’t many flights. And these peak periods, and associated wait times, change daily based on scheduled flights.”

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The CDC on Monday offered the pandemic-stricken airline industry a reprieve that could help ease staffing shortages when the agency cut in half the recommended length of time a person should isolate after getting COVID-19 — to five days. Airlines had previously called on the Biden administration to shorten the quarantine period to alleviate staffing issues.

The move comes as airlines anticipate heavy travel on Sunday, Jan. 2, as people return home after the holidays.

The Omicron variant, which the CDC said Tuesday is now responsible for around 59 percent of new US coronavirus cases, has already helped push daily case averages in the United States above 200,000 for the first time in nearly 12 months, according to The New York Times’ coronavirus tracker.

Material from Globe wire reports was used.


Andrew Brinker can be reached at andrew.brinker@globe.com. Follow him @andrewnbrinker.