HONOLULU (KHON2) — Those who are flying any time soon should make sure to call the airlines before heading to the airport. Across the nation, thousands of flights have been canceled during the last week of December with staffing shortages due to COVID to blame.
The president of Hawaiian Airlines said the uptick in delays and cancellations they’re experiencing are also linked to the virus.
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The record breaking number of COVID cases in Hawaii in the past week has not stopped people from traveling, but it is causing problems with flights. ‘Tis the season for flight delays and cancellations
Hawaii Kai resident Joanne Higuchi and her family experienced their own travel woes after trying to catch a flight to Hilo.
“Our original flight got cancelled, so they rescheduled us to a 1 o’clock flight, but that flight got delayed until four,” Higuchi explained. “But at least we are on a flight right now. Hopefully, crossing fingers that we’ll get there.”
Hawaiian Airlines President Peter Ingram said the surge in COVID-19 is contributing to staffing shortages. The company currently has 175 employees out who tested positive.
“It’s been a compounding of those effects that has left us falling short of our own standards, candidly, in terms of what we expect, in terms of reliability,” Ingram said.
Over Christmas weekend, Hawaiian Airlines cancelled 11 flights. On Wednesday, another 10 neighbor island flights were cut, and on Thursday, a total of 24 flights were cancelled.
“We actually added some 8,321 and 8,330 flights with larger aircraft to provide extra seats to accommodate people,” Ingram explained.
Though many are still traveling, they admit it does make them uneasy.
Nick and his family were catching a flight back to California after spending 10 days in Hawaii.
“We try not to think about [COVID] and just do what we have to do,” he said. “All three of us are vaccinated and we try to do everything we can with proper PPE and we wash our hands and take care of each other.”
“We were on the borderline of going or not going,” Higuchi said. “But I guess it just all happened so fast. So we’re still in cross-finger mode and being very careful.”
If you do plan to travel, Department of Transportation spokesperson Jai Cunningham said there are a few things to remember.
“From curb all the way to the airplane, it’s mandated by TSA, not by us, but by TSA, at every airport across the country, you have to be masked up,” Cunningham explained.
He also suggested arriving at the airport two to three hours ahead of your flight, and getting dropped off if if possible due to limited parking.
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“You may want to get in touch with your carrier, because there’s a chance that you could either have delays or even canceled flights,” he added.