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United Cancels Hundreds Of Flights This Week As More Crew Fall Ill

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United Airlines had to cancel hundreds of flights this past week, citing sick calls due to Covid-19 amongst thousands employees.

The amount of positive cases makes up 4% of United’s total airline staff, as reported by Reuters.

united airlines planes tails

In a letter to employees earlier this week, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby stated the following:

“We have about 3,000 employees who are currently positive for Covid. Just as an example, in one day alone at Newark, nearly one-third of our workforce called out sick.”

United Airlines airplane loading on tarmac at airport

The letter also goes on to state that while many employees are testing positive for Covid, none are currently hospitalized and no Covid-related deaths have been reported by fully vaccinated employees over the past eight weeks.

United Airlines was the first major U.S. airlines to instate a mandatory  vaccine policy last year for all employees, and a number of airlines followed suit.

Kirby noted in his letter that, “since our vaccine policy went into effect, the hospitalization rate among our employees as been 100x lower than the general population in the U.S.”

two travelers talking at the airport about their flight cancellations

How Can I Find Out If My United Airlines Flight Will Be Canceled?

If you have a flight with United Airlines over the next few weeks, make sure you sign up for flight updates and notifications so that you can get the latest updates on your flight status. Always check the status before leaving for the airport. 

The website FlightAware is a handy tool that tracks all daily aviation activity to keep travelers updated round-the-clock. You can search by flight number or flight route, and the site will pull the latest information on your flight status. 

London Heathrow window

In order to manage the slew of flight cancelations, United’s CEO mentioned in his letter to employees that, “we worked to get ahead of the impact by acting early to cancel flights when necessary and notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport – we’re also reducing our near-term schedules to make sure we have the staffing and resources to take care of customers.”

“As a result, we’ve been able to get a high percentage of our customers on other flights and close to their original arrival time,” he continued.

Wondering if your flight will be canceled? See more tips here in our post on what to do if your flight is canceled or delayed.

Flight Cancelations Over The 2021 Holiday Season

News of flight delays and cancelations over December and into January wasn’t uncommon this year. Airlines around the world were forced to cancel and delay flights leaving passengers stranded for days in some cases. In the U.S. alone, over 6,500 flights were canceled over the holiday week. 11% of United’s flights were canceled on New Year’s Eve day.

The cancelations were due to everything from bad weather conditions and a number of airline employees testing positive for the virus and calling in sick as the Omicron wave began to spread rapidly over the month of December.

united plane flying

In an effort to halt sudden flight cancelations, United announced last week that they will begin offering their pilots three times their typical pay to pick up extra flights throughout the month of January. 

All passengers have the option to cancel or change their flight for a later date. Check out United’s cancelation policies to request a refund to see if you can qualify for a full refund or a flight credit for future travel.

Chicago, Illinois, USA - September 12, 2011: Women at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport read departures list for United Airlines. O'Hare is one of the busiest airports in the world.

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