Alaska Airlines cancels holiday flights due to staffing challenges caused by COVID-19

Published: Dec. 24, 2021 at 4:17 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Joining several other airlines across the country faced with difficulties brought on by the omicron variant, Alaska Airlines has canceled several flights as the holiday weekend draws near.

The airline said in a statement Friday that it had actually increased its number of employees for reserve positions in order to prepare for the holiday travel period. Some of those employees have since reported possibly being exposed to COVID-19, according to the statement, and are following the company’s quarantine protocols.

As a result, Alaska Airlines canceled 17 flights on Dec. 23 and nine on Christmas Eve.

“Based on everything we know at this time, we do not anticipate December 25 to be significantly different than December 24,” the statement said. “We apologize to our guests impacted by the cancellations that may have taken a bit of the merry out of this holiday season. We realize it’s incredibly frustrating when travel doesn’t go as planned, especially now as many of us are eager to connect with family and friends.”

Alaska Airlines is working to get travelers rebooked on other flights, according to the statement. It has implemented a “flexible travel waiver” option available on alaskaair.com where customers can rebook their flights themselves. Those with flights scheduled between Dec. 22 and Jan. 2 can change their tickets online as long as their travel would be completed by Jan. 31, 2022.

The airline is also providing extra pay for current employees who can work extra shifts over the holiday weekend, the statement said, to prevent delays and cancellations.

“Members of our management team are also working to cover gaps in the operation – from the airports to in the air,” the statement reads. “We appreciate our guests’ patience and understanding now and in the days ahead. We’re using all our resources to make sure everyone arrives at their destination ready to have a terrific holiday.”

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