Holiday travel canceled for some as flight crews test positive for COVID
Speaker 1: (00:00)
Despite a surge in case rates from the Elron variant this past weekend was still one of the busiest for flight travel, but it was met with trip cancellations as the virus spread among flight crews, more than 2000 flights were canceled around the nation over the weekend. And another 700 flights were canceled just this morning. Some of airlines impacted by the cancellations were jet blue, Delta airlines, United airlines, and American airlines. Joining us to discuss the situation at the San Diego international airport is senior communication specialist for the San Diego county regional airport authority, Sabrina LoPiccolo Sabrina. Welcome.
Speaker 2: (00:39)
Hi, good morning. Thanks.
Speaker 1: (00:41)
So, can you tell us about the turnout at the San Diego international airport over the holiday weekend? Well, we
Speaker 2: (00:46)
Are anticipating about 1 million passengers coming and going from San Diego international airport and that's between December 17th and January 3rd. So, uh, so far we have seen about 556 passengers coming and going from the airport. And obviously we do have a few more days to, to see if we get up to that, that million number,
Speaker 1: (01:10)
Thousands of flights have been canceled due to the spread of this virus. And those cancellations are spilling over into the work week here. Any advice for what travelers should do as they, uh, plan out their trip?
Speaker 2: (01:23)
Yeah. You know, traveling, uh, during the holidays can, can be stressful and then adding on some of these cancellation and delays is, is sure to not make the travel season, that pleasurable. However, if you are going to be traveling, we suggest just checking in with your airline, um, before you arrive to the airport, just an understand, you know, if your flight is delayed, uh, how long it's gonna be delayed and, and just make arrangements that way, you know, that's really gonna be the best advice. And then I think, uh, also, you know, just understand that the airlines are just trying to get everybody to their location, uh, as safe as possible. And, and we at the airport just wanna make sure that, you know, we're, we're supporting the passenger and the airlines and ensuring that everything that we can do, you know, from a health and safety perspective, um, doing our advanced cleaning and, and social distancing, if possible, um, you know, just understand that we're all trying to, uh, do the best we can and get everybody to their destination safely. So, you know, a little humility and, and understanding is greatly appreciated
Speaker 1: (02:23)
As well. And again, despite the rise in case numbers, this was still one of the busiest travel weekends of the year compared to last year, have the number of travelers coming in and out of the airport during the holidays increased.
Speaker 2: (02:37)
Yes. So, you know, really since, uh, March of 2021 this year, uh, we've been seeing a slow increase of passengers. And if, you know, if you remember, uh, that's kind of when the vaccine was becoming more available and, and people were getting, uh, vaccinated. And so, you know, we've really been seeing slowly but surely our numbers climb and, and especially on those holiday travel times. So, you know, again, this is a, this is about a 25% increase over last year's passenger numbers. Um, but it's still 20%, uh, decrease over 2019 numbers. So again, you know, we're, we're definitely seeing more passengers than we saw last year. Still, not as many as 2019.
Speaker 1: (03:21)
So we're still not back to the pre pandemic levels.
Speaker 2: (03:24)
No, no. And, you know, and I think that that's, uh, there's a combination of reasons for that, you know, partly it's because people just don't feel comfortable yet and, and aren't doing a lot of the air traveling, but then also, you know, with everything happening with the airlines, um, it's, you know, have either been suspended or, um, you know, just haven't returned back to San Diego or, you know, we actually have got new destinations, but we don't have the, quite the frequency that perhaps we used to have, uh, in 2019. So, you know, it, it's sort of a, a combination of, of not being quite up to the, of flights or seats that we had pre pandemic. Um, but also, you know, we have gained, you know, a few destinations and, and some additional flights that way, but again, you know, people just, um, aren't traveling as much as they used to
Speaker 1: (04:13)
What safety protocols are in place at the San Diego international airport for travelers and flight crews are, uh, to ensure safety as COVID 19 cases are on the rise in the
Speaker 2: (04:24)
County. Yeah. You know, much like, like everywhere else. We were one of, you know, the first to be able to start providing a lot of the health and safety measures, um, at the airport, you know, very early on in 2020. So, uh, we have increased cleaning we're, we're cleaning around the, and getting a lot of those high touch points. Uh, we have, um, social distancing stickers and reminders, uh, seat separation, signage, um, things like that, you know, just to, to remind people to social distance as much as possible, uh, Plexiglas STAs, and then of course, masks are required while on airport property. That mandate, uh, is, is a federal mandate. And it's been extended a couple different times, but that is still in place. And, and so everybody that is on airport property or going on the airplane will have to have a mask.
Speaker 1: (05:11)
And do you have any sense of how the thousands of flights canceled over the weekend might impact flights this week?
Speaker 2: (05:19)
Yeah. You know, I mean, anytime that there's, uh, cancellation or delays, it has a ripple effect. Right. So, um, you know, we, we have been seeing quite a few of cancellation and delays, and I think, uh, again, the best advice that we can give is just to be in touch with your airline, understand, you know, what's going on and, and the reason for the cancellations and your options. And
Speaker 1: (05:41)
If you are trying travel in and out of the San Diego international airport, there are a few changes to parking that you'd mentioned, uh, before. Tell us about that. Yeah,
Speaker 2: (05:50)
So, well, we're very excited, uh, construction for the new terminal. One has begun and, um, you know, right now there's not too many passenger impacts, but starting January 3rd, uh, we'll start to see some impacts to our parking. So on January 3rd, the cell phone lot will be relocated to the terminal two parking lot on McCain road. So if you happen to be picking up, uh, any of your loved one or friends, family, uh, from the airport, just be advised that the cell phone lot starting January 3rd will be relocated. And then also, uh, beginning, January 10th will be reducing the parking in front of terminal one. Uh, so it will only have about 500 spaces. Um, so, you know, parking in front of terminal. One will be, uh, anybody that's wanting to park at the airport. We strongly suggest getting reservations, uh, on our website, which is sand.org. And that way you can, uh, plan to have a space. And the parking reservations are for terminal two parking Plaza. And if, uh, you happen to be flying out of terminal one, but parking and terminal to two, we'll have inter terminal buses that can transfer people. And then also we're bringing back the valet parking option. So valet parking will be an option for anybody flying out of terminal one or terminal two, starting January 10th as well.
Speaker 1: (07:12)
I've been speaking to senior communication specialist for the San Diego county, regional airport authority, Sabrina LoPiccolo Sabrina. Thank you so much for joining us.
Speaker 2: (07:22)
Thanks so much. Happy holidays.
Despite a surge in COVID cases, this past holiday weekend was still one of the busiest for flight travel, but it was met with trip cancellations as the virus spread among flight crews.
According to FlightAware, a site that provides aviation data, 1,517 flights within, into or out of the United States were canceled the day after Christmas. Monday 1,214 flights were canceled in the United States.
Some of the airlines impacted by the cancellations were JetBlue, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines.
RELATED: More than 5,000 flights have been canceled worldwide this Christmas weekend
Sabrina LoPiccolo, the senior communications specialist for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, joined KPBS Midday Edition on Monday to talk about travel at the San Diego International Airport over the holiday weekend.
"We are anticipating about 1 million passengers coming and going from the San Diego International Airport between Dec. 17 and Jan. 3," she said. "So far, we have seen about 556,000 passengers coming and going from the airport, and obviously we do have a few more days to see if we get up to that million number."
LoPiccolo said the nationwide cancellations have affected the San Diego International Airport as well.
"Anytime that there are cancellations or delays, it has a ripple affect, and we have been seeing quite a few cancellations and delays," LoPiccolo said.
LoPiccolo suggested that if you plan to travel during the upcoming week, check in with your airline before heading to the airport to check if your flight is delayed.