FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - New Year’s weekend came with flight frustrations for travelers at airports in South Florida and across the country.
The current surge in COVID-19 cases and winter weather caused many flights to get canceled or delayed over the holiday weekend, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.
Marisa Billions said she dropped off her son at FLL so he could catch a Spirit flight.
“That line went from Terminal 4, where Spirit Airlines is, all the way into Terminal 3,” she said.
Billions said she wasn’t sure whether or not her son would be able to board the flight on time.
“I am in and out of airports all the time, and I have never seen anything like that,” she said.
Travelers at Miami International Airport experienced a considerably smoother check-in process on Sunday.
“No, no problems at all. We had an excellent trip, everybody healthy and safe,” said Brian, a traveler from New York.
The fast-moving lines and shorter waits came as good news for travelers heading home following a holiday getaway.
“So far, so good; our flight is still on. We know a lot of flights are canceled, but ours is still on. We’re going to try to make it,” said Jamie, another New York resident.
“No flight delays, no cancelations, but it’s incredible to see how busy the airport is, it really is,” said traveler Chris Delgado.
It was a more chaotic situation at Denver International Airport. A Twitter user posted a video saying more than 400 flights had been canceled.
It was also a hectic day at Chicago O’Hare as people endured travel woes. Many travelers spent New Year’s Day at the airport, with cancellations and delays across the board.
“It’s too long, and there is no space to spend the time and [get] something to eat, so it’s a long time here,” said a traveler.
Several airlines, like United and American, blamed the flight issues on crew shortages driven by COVID, as well as severe weather around the nation.
As of Monday morning, more than 1,800 U.S. flights had been canceled.
“I was supposed to catch a flight home today after the holidays to Orlando, but it got canceled by my airline,” said traveler Woodmane Jean. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Chicago in particular got a taste of that weather, with several inches of snow forcing delays from 15 minutes to over 24 hours.
“Thirty minutes, but I can handle that. I mean, as long as I’m not spending the night here, I’m good,” said traveler Sylvia Robinson.
Spirit Airlines did not immediately respond to 7News’ request for comment as to what may have caused the backup at FLL.
AAA, meanwhile, believes crew shortages are likely to impact flights for days or even weeks.
Transportation Security Administration officials said 2 million passengers were screened at checkpoints across the country on Sunday.
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