Covid Live Updates: Flight Cancellations Upend Holiday Travel

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The rapid spread of the Omicron variant has spurred major holiday cancellations: The Rockettes canceled their Christmas Spectacular. “Hamilton” and “Aladdin” on Broadway have paused performances through this week. The New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square has been scaled back.

Holiday plans across the United States have followed suit, sometimes by choice and sometimes by necessity. More than 3,000 flights scheduled for Friday and Saturday were canceled as airlines reported that workers were falling sick with the virus.

Martha Blanco and her partner typically celebrate the holidays with her family in New Jersey. But, like so many others, this is the second year they won’t be making the trip.

With a deadline over her head and anxieties about Omicron, the pair decided to stay in Brooklyn, ride their bikes over the Brooklyn Bridge’s new bike lane and get dim sum — a meal they shared the day after their wedding — at Jing Fong, a Chinatown institution that recently reopened in a much smaller space. But even that caused concern.

“Once it became clear that the spread would be happening so quickly, we decided to cancel those plans, too,” Ms. Blanco, 32, said, adding that it had been a difficult decision.

Clarice Smith Drew, from Grand Rapids, Mich., is also suddenly staying in place. For over a year, she and her husband had been planning to visit their son in New York this holiday season. But on Sunday, after following the news about the spread of Omicron in the city, they canceled their flights, which were scheduled for Tuesday.

“Let’s just say we’re well over 60,” Ms. Smith Drew said. “So we thought it was best to just pull back on this.” She and her husband are both vaccinated and have received booster shots, but still did not want to take the risk.

“That was a hard decision on an emotional level,” she said. “On a more practical level, it was pretty easy to determine what to do.”

She and her husband will instead attend a small gathering, cautiously. “We haven’t reached hermit status,” she said, “but I’m very careful about where I go and how long I stay there.”

Pratap Ranade, 39, will not be seeing his family members as planned. On Saturday evening, he and his partner made the difficult decision to cancel their flights, which were scheduled for Sunday afternoon from New York to India. They had planned to see Mr. Ranade’s parents for the first time since Christmas in 2019.

“Over a span of what felt like 48 hours, suddenly I had a lot of people I knew who got sick,” said Mr. Ranade, who said he had made the decision largely out of concern of being exposed while traveling. “I definitely know we’re by no means alone. I think everyone’s feeling a pang of nervousness if you’re flying or sadness if you’re not.”

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