Delta Air Lines Cancels More Than 500 Flights Over Thanksgiving Due To Pilot Shortage


Delta Air Lines had a pretty disastrous Thanksgiving weekend so far as the carrier was forced to cancel more than 500 flights due to a shortage of pilots.

Many passengers had their travel plans disrupted after the carrier had earlier changed their crew roster during the pandemic and suddenly wasn’t prepared for mass demand anymore.

While Delta usually prides itself on it’s small number of delays and cancelled flights this was an embarrassment for the carrier as they have currently reduced their active workforce due to the pandemic but still kept selling tickets as per demand.

As CNN reports so far more than 500 flights had to be cancelled and that doesn’t include Saturday yet.

A surge in Thanksgiving demand is taxing Delta Air Lines’ pandemic-era workforce. The carrier was forced to cancel hundreds of flights this week, according to its pilot union and the airline.

Delta (DAL) ultimately canceled nearly one in every five flights it was scheduled to operate on Thanksgiving Day, and has dropped in total more than 500 flights this week, even as air travel has been picking up in the last few weeks. The airline said it expects its system to return to normal over the weekend.

The Air Line Pilots Association, the union that represents Delta pilots, said staffing reductions due to the coronavirus pandemic and the drop-off in travel “have left a smaller pool of pilots qualified and ready to fly in the fleets that are seeing an increased demand over this holiday.”

After distributing the November employee schedules last month, Delta added flights to its schedule and asked for volunteers to cover those flights, according to a source familiar with the situation. But when there were not enough employees to cover those legs, the airline was forced to cancel some of them.

The airline declined to comment on that explanation. …

The crew planning at Delta obviously wasn’t up to the task to adequately staff and prepare for a surge in flight activity and passenger demand. Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days in the annual calendar in the U.S. and has been known for chaotic airport scenes, be it weather related or due to overbookings. Not we have to add carrier staffing foul ups to the list.


Delta (just like any other carrier) should have foreseen that Thanksgiving remains an extremely busy travel day, pandemic or not. Passengers are still free to travel within the U.S. and there was no reason to expect that they wouldn’t do so. Delta also knew full well how many people had purchased tickets for their flights. Little valid excuses here on the carriers side.

It’s been a few years since I last traveled on Thanksgiving in the U.S. but I remember it was on American and DFW was mayhem.