Just a few weeks after their Thanksgiving Meltdown, Delta Air Lines once again had a wave of cancellations over the Christmas Holidays impacting hundreds of flights.
Thousands of 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 on top of adverse weather conditions.
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 for flights they couldn’t end up operating.
Of course having winter weather in December isn’t something that should surprise anyone either.
As the Washington Post reports more than 250 flights have been cancelled by Delta in the last two days.
Travelers across the country are scrambling to figure out backup plans after Delta Air Lines canceled hundreds of flights amid the holidays.
First came the weather. On Wednesday, in response to a snowstorm in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, where Delta has a major hub, the airline proactively canceled more than 250 flights scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. Then because of staffing issues, Delta was forced to cancel about 100 more flights scheduled for Friday, Christmas Day.
“A number of factors have pressured our ability to timely staff several dozen scheduled flights on Friday,” Delta spokesman Anthony Black said in an email.
The cancellations are a possible byproduct of the pandemic’s toll on travel demand, according to Chris Riggins, a Delta pilot and communications chairman of the Delta Air Lines Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots Association.
“Due to the downsizing of the airline and trying to manage the size of the workforce … there’s been some training issues that’s been created from moving pilots from airplane to airplane and getting them retrained,” Riggins says. “It’s basically a problem of trying to get the pilots to the right place at the right time.”
Delta has literally been skating on thin ice with their crew roster in the past few months and these two mass cancellation events during Thanksgiving and now Christmas isn’t something they should be very proud of.
Winter storms in the midwest have further escalated the issue and Delta has published a travel waiver for Minneapolis and their adjacent airports. If the storm moves I wouldn’t be surprised if Detroit is impacted as well at some point.
Delta (just like any other carrier) should have foreseen that the Christmas holidays remains an extremely busy travel day, pandemic or not. Of course no airline likes to cancel flights but another problem is the common practice that pilots don’t necessarily live near their base and they frequently commute all over the country.
Such a system is blown into pieces during periods of already inadequate staffing and those flights that were cancelled due to the storms.