Readers Say

Readers share their good, bad, and ugly air travel experiences over the holidays

"Basically lost a day but in the end it all worked out."

A JetBlue flight arrives at Salt Lake City International Airport in March, 2021. The Associated Press

Air travel frustrations made headlines over the holidays due to canceled and delayed flights over weather and staffing shortages due to the COVID-19 surge.

We asked readers to share their air travel experiences over the holidays. While some reported no issues at all, others shared stories of getting stuck in another country, their plane running low on gas, lost luggage, and more.

Ahead, 10 readers share their good, bad, and ugly air travel stories over the holidays.

Stuck in Aruba with COVID-19

A reader who asked that we not use her name shared a story about her family’s trip to Aruba over Christmas. The day before flying home, one of her children tested positive for COVID-19. The rest of the family tested negative.

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The reader stayed in Aruba with her daughter who tested positive and sent her husband home with their other child.

She was told someone from the Aruba Department of Health would contact her about placing her in government housing during the quarantine period but she didn’t hear from anyone for two days so she booked her own Airbnb for $1,600, she wrote. She spent “hours and hours” rebooking her JetBlue flight home, which was originally booked through a third-party travel site.

“DO NOT TRAVEL INTERNATIONALLY NOW — unless you are prepared, both financially and emotionally, to quarantine for a while and pay for repeated testing,” she wrote. “This includes being prepared to restart the quarantine clock if someone new in your travel party tests positive. You will be on your own to figure everything out. It is an amazingly stressful situation that ruins the good memories of the trip. We still are dealing with travel insurance reimbursement — wish us luck!”

The plane needed gas

Kevin from Quincy was flying direct from Boston to Salt Lake City on JetBlue over the holidays and his flight was delayed two hours, taking off at 8:15 p.m. instead of 6:15 p.m. But that’s not the worst of it.

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“Once in the air the captain came on and informed us that ‘due to headwinds we are going to have to divert to Omaha, Nebraska and get gas,” wrote Kevin.

Kevin’s reaction: “What????”

“We were assured that it would only take 20 minutes once there but it took over an hour. We arrived in SLC [Salt Lake City] 4 hours late!” Kevin wrote.

Busy airport

“It was busy, security lines looked like they were back at pre-pandemic levels,” wrote Scott from Cape Cod, who flew direct on Delta Air Lines out of Logan Airport over the holidays.

Scott noted that the airport felt much different when he flew again recently.

“Flew again this week and Logan was a ghost town, a lot of empty seats on the plane, but no cancellations or delays.”

No snags’ on a trip to Prague

“No snags at all,” wrote Mark Mazzie, who flew to Prague for Christmas.

“Had to get tested before I left and while I was there,” he wrote. “Had to show my [vaccination] card in every restaurant and public facility I entered. It was actually good to know that everyone traveling was [vaccinated]. Wish they’d do that for domestic travel.”

Honeymoon, take 2

Tamara Vedaie of Cambridge was all set for her honeymoon to the Cayman Islands, with a direct flight leaving on Christmas and returning Jan. 1.

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“We woke at 4 a.m. on Christmas Day to a simple, basic email from JetBlue stating YOUR FLIGHT IS CANCELED with zero information on whether or not we could get rebooked on another flight,” she wrote. “After a hold time of 90+ minutes we were able to get rebooked for January 1 (direct flight) and returning on Saturday, January 8, 2022.”

The couple had completed all the necessary preparations for the original trip, including testing negative for COVID-19.

“While we were able to get rebooked, the anxiety of needing to wait a week meant 1) paying for another COVID test at Sameday Health (these are not cheap), 2) making sure we did not get COVID (I went to hot yoga one day with a mask on even, and 3) being worried that our new flight would also get canceled on January 1, 2022,” she wrote.

The trip was “amazing,” she wrote, but she wound up paying $400 in COVID-19 tests overall. The newlywed is grateful to her company for letting her shift her vacation time and to her attentive Airbnb host on Christmas day.

“Instead of opening presents with his 4 kids our host was helping us rebook our reservation on the app,” she wrote.

Easy Breezy

“Traveled from Boston to Denver on December 27 and returned on January 3,” wrote Skippy from Waltham. “Flights both ways were on time with no delays on JetBlue. Pleasantly surprised!!!!”

An unexpected Christmas in the sky

Basak Oztan from Woburn thought he’d be spending most of Christmas day in sunny California, but a canceled and rebooked flight meant his entire Christmas day was instead spent in the sky.

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He was flying from Boston to Palm Springs, California via New York, leaving at 5 a.m. At 2 a.m. he received the dreaded cancellation notice. The airline booked him on a non-stop flight later in the day, so instead of arriving at 1 p.m. his new arrival time in California was at 10 p.m.

“Basically lost a day but in the end it all worked out,” he wrote. “We were going to have a 3 hour layover at JFK, which I was not excited about with the COVID situation. Non-stop flight was a big plus. It sucked to wake up with a cancellation note on your phone but we were still at home instead of a long line at the airport counter.”

‘A normal flight‘ to California

Pam Hastings from Sherborn flew JetBlue from Boston to San Francisco on Dec. 15 and described her experience as “a normal flight for the current situation.”

The flight attendants were personable and attentive and fellow passengers were patient and kind, she wrote.

“The most interesting thing? Both flights had a female pilot,” Pam wrote.

‘Zero lines’

A teacher from Belmont traveling to the Midwest had a flight experience “nothing like what I saw on the news,” she wrote.

There were “zero lines” on Christmas Eve, wrote the teacher, who did not provide her name, adding, “We walked right up to TSA and we were at the gate in about 10 minutes from start to finish. Flight was on time, everyone was masked.”

The teacher also experienced short airport lines during the flight home and reported an on time flight and “overall uneventful” travel day.

‘I was quite pleased’ despite lost baggage blunder

Lori C. from Warren, R.I. flew Delta Air Lines from Boston to Kansas City via Atlanta on Dec. 22 and returned on Dec. 29. Her bag was lost on her return flight, but Delta located the bag and delivered it to her home the next day by 7 a.m.

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“I was quite pleased with my travel experience,” Lori wrote. “I recognize I may be in the minority based on media reports. I think we all need to give airport workers and airline staff more grace. They are doing the best they can in very difficult times.”

Responses lightly edited for clarity.