STATEMENT: Consumer advocates call for timely refunds after airlines cancel more than 2,000 flights nationwide since Christmas Eve

Media Contacts
Jacob van Cleef

Former Consumer Watchdog, Associate, PIRG

Airlines blame the Omicron variant, understaffing and winter weather


PHILADELPHIA — Since Christmas Eve, airline companies canceled more than 2,000 U.S. flights, and even more flights were delayed, affecting tens of thousands of flyers. Worldwide, more than 8,000 flights have been canceled, and this may not be the last of it. Some flights were canceled due to winter weather, but many airlines canceled flights because of understaffing and surging COVID-19 cases that have sidelined workers.

In response, Jacob van Cleef, Consumer Watchdog associate at PIRG, said:

“Understaffing and Omicron have been issues that everyone, including the airlines, knew about going into December. The airlines didn’t deal with the obvious problems by reducing the number of flights ahead of time. Instead, they discontinued a few routes and waited until the last second to cancel flights they couldn’t operate. There is no excuse for the airlines’ failure to plan ahead.

“Understaffing caused mass flight cancelations only a few months ago. Evidently, that issue has not been resolved. Now, the airlines should lift all the red tape and quickly refund people whose flights they canceled. Refunds have been the No. 1 complaint involving airlines since the pandemic began. 

“The airlines continue to fail to deal with problems as they come. How many people are dealing with disrupted schedules to see relatives or friends, or to get back to work, or to pick up boarded animals because their flights were canceled? Through all of this, travelers were trusting the airlines to help them enjoy holidays with their families. Instead, many received stress, aggravation and extra expenses. Moving forward, the airlines’ goal must be to limit that by providing timely refunds.”