By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — While Santa experienced smooth sailing, that was not the case for thousands of holiday travelers.

The excitement of seeing family in person, once again, was tempered by flight trouble.

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Between weather problems and staff shortages because of COVID, airlines canceled more than 5,000 flights, including more than 70 flights in or out of Chicago

Travelers say if you’re heading to the airport, call ahead and be patient.

“The plan was that: to be there for Christmas Eve with the folks and dinner and all those kinds of things. It happens though. It’s not something that is in everyone’s control,” said Julie Beilfuss.

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“Make sure that your cellphone is charged so that you are getting those airline alerts in case anything changes. I recommend you bring snacks, just in case lines are long and you’re getting hungry,” said Stacey Sunday, director of communications for Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

The TSA said it screened about 1.7 million people Friday, compared to 2.6 million on Christmas Eve 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

As some travelers are planning to leave their destinations, as CBS 2’s Meredith Barack reports, experts advise travelers to keep an eye on their flights before heading to the airport.

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So far, only two flights have been canceled so far Sunday at Midway airport, 42 for O’Hare. 838 flights in total have been canceled in, out, and within the U.S. Sunday according to FlightAware.com.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff