NORFOLK, Va. — Some travelers arriving and departing from Norfolk International Airport are feeling the effects of the American Airlines difficulties.
Since Friday, October 29, American Airlines has canceled 2,291 flights, according to Andrew Trull of American's Global Communications - East Division. He wrote that 1,060 were canceled Sunday and 340 were canceled Monday.
In a statement, the airline cited weather as the reason for the cancellations. Specifically, a spokesperson said high winds were a problem in Texas where the company is headquartered.
“This week saw two days of severe winds in DFW [Dallas-Fort Worth], with gusts of up to 50 mph on Thursday, creating crosswind limitations that sharply reduced arrival capacity by more than half,” wrote the company.
The airline says the weather issues have impacted its staffing, which has already been limited as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Gary and Tammy Lines of Arizona left Norfolk Monday afternoon to return to Phoenix. They ended up booking a flight on another airline to make sure they got back in time for Gary to see patients Tuesday morning. They feel the staffing shortage is due, in part, to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
“It’s inevitable. People are going to be unhappy with the mandates telling them they have to have vaccines," said Gary, who told News 3 his best friend died from COVID-19. "If you can prevent something with the vaccine, whether you agree with it or not, it may be worth doing."
An American Airlines representative stated that nearly 1,800 flight attendants will begin returning to their jobs starting Monday, November 1, and at least 600 new hires will be on board by the end of the year. American temporarily furloughed 19,000 workers when the money lapsed last year, but reversed the furloughs when aid was restored.
Sheila Hale, an employee of AAA of Tidewater said, "We definitely recommend insurance. You never know what could happen."
In fact, AAA reports that 31% of U.S. travelers say they are more likely to purchase travel insurance for their trips planned between now and the end of 2022, specifically due to the pandemic.
Travelers are advised to check the status of flights before going to the airport. As of Monday afternoon, no Tuesday flights on American Airlines - in or out of ORF - had been canceled.