Here's why so many airlines are canceling so many reservations

Hint: It's not all because of omicron

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Over 30,000 flights have been either cancelled or delayed by U.S. airlines since Christmas, and there are signs that those cancellations may very well continue into the middle of February. CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg says it is not all because of omicron.

“Three weeks ago when the airlines canceled the flights, they didn't have a choice. They didn't have anybody to actually operate the planes,” Greenberg said. “Now they're canceling because they can.”

Fewer people are traveling, and airlines are taking advantage of the dip in demand to do triage on their schedules, Greenberg said. In some cases, they are pulling planes out of the schedule completely.

“You're seeing airlines like Alaska Airlines cutting 10% of their schedule. JetBlue: 1,300 flights canceled preemptively between now and the end of this month,” he said. “And then, overseas, even crazier — Lufthansa canceling 33,000 flights between now and Feb. 15.”

He says the hope among air carriers is that they can get back on track and get everyone in sequence where they're supposed to be by mid-February.

Meanwhile, the requirements for international travel continue to evolve. Being vaccinated against COVID-19 may no longer be enough for some European destinations. Greenberg says that’s because we're coming up on the first anniversary of the COVID-19 vaccines’ debut.

“Now you're seeing the European Union saying, ‘OK, your European vaccine passport’s only gonna be valid for nine months.’ The translation is you can't show proof of vaccination,” he said.

For certain destinations, travelers will need to show proof of getting a booster shot as well. That rule will kick in, for example, in the Netherlands next month, among many other locations.

“Remember, the rules are changing by the hour,” he said, “but right now, if you've been vaccinated and you've been boostered, check your calendar, because nine months is about the limit before they're gonna ask to see another vaccination.”