RDU travelers frustrated as American Airlines cancels 800 flights in a day; holiday ‘nightmare’ predicted

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — American Airlines canceled more than 800 flights on Sunday, including at least 10 at RDU International Airport.

Most of the canceled flights were either arriving or departing to Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas and Houston.

One traveler, Montana Armata was supposed to be on the early morning flight to Charlotte.

“I got a text from American Airlines last night, six hours before my flight this morning, saying that my connecting flight had been canceled and that they were working to rebook me with something else,” Armata said of the last-minute cancellation.

Maria Luce told CBS 17 her 88-year-old father and 84-year-old mother didn’t find out their flight was canceled until they arrived at the airport.

“My elderly parents flew in a few days ago with no problems. But yesterday, they had a flight out of Charlotte direct to Buffalo. So we had a two-hour drive to Charlotte and never were notified that the flight was canceled and we found out when we go there,” said Luce.

American Airlines is blaming bad weather out of its hub in Dallas and a shortage of workers for the widespread disruption. The airline canceled more than 16,000 flights over the Halloween weekend, leaving travelers scrambling to find a new way to their destinations.

“We had to drive two hours back to Pinehurst and we got them a flight today out of RDU connecting to Washington, D.C. which is really hard because my mom is in a wheelchair,” said Luce. “I didn’t want them to have a connecting flight.”

RELATED: Click here to read a full statement from American Airlines about the crisis (pdf document)

Armata tells CBS 17 she called a friend who booked her a flight using their JetBlue points. After that, it’s a two-hour drive back to her home in Hartford, Connecticut.

“But luckily somebody will come pick me up,” she said.

Like most major airlines, American Airlines required employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Those who don’t risk losing their jobs.

While it’s unclear if vaccination requirements played a role in the cancellations, a union representing American Airlines works told CBS News a few weeks ago it will likely lead to staffing shortages over the busy holiday season.

“I feel for those that do have to travel for the holidays because it’s gonna be a nightmare,” said Armata. “I think this is just the beginning.”

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