CHICAGO (CBS) — Winter weather has left thousands of families stranded as flights across the country are canceled in the middle of holiday travel. On Sunday alone, O’Hare International Airport saw 567 flgihts canceled. Another 70 were canceled from Midway.
About 2,000 flights into and out of Chicago were canceled over the weekend. As of 5:30 p.m., O’Hare had seen 570 canceled flights on Sunday alone. Another 72 flights were canceled at Midway.
Delays were averaging 17 minutes at O’Hare and 23 minutes at Midway.
“I’m in Chicago. The last time I saw Lisa and the kids was back Dec. 28,” said Vito Mazza.
His family is stranded more than 1,000 miles away in Orlando.
“On the 31st we got just a text from Spirit: ‘Your flight is canceled.’ Nothing else,” Lisa Mazza said.
She and her children are among thousands just trying to get home.
One woman trying to get back home to Bolivia told CBS 2 she had to spend her first night of 2022 at Midway.
“This night is another problem because I can’t find a nearby hotel,” Scarlet Perez said. “My only option is to stay the night here. For food I will try to call delivery.”
But even before the bad weather the Mazzas and Twitter users were seeing their Spirit flgihts canceled, seemingly without notice.
It’s a problem major airlines like Spirit, American Airlines and Southwest have suffered for months. Most recently it was becasue of staffing issues as crew members test positive for COVID-19.
It’s leaving families like the Mazzas to ring in the New Year miles apart and over the phone.
“I’m trying to figure out how to make the most out of this and keep my spirits up for my kids,” said Lisa Mazza.
CBS 2 reached out to Spirit to ask whether the Mazzas’ issue was related to COVID staffing issues but never heard back.
According to the Department of Transportation, U.S. airlines as a whole are not legally required to provide passengers with hotels or food vouchers or any money that falls outside of the price of that canceled ticket.