By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4)– Hundreds of flights were canceled across the country on Christmas Eve. Worker shortages suffered by airlines like United and Delta left thousands of passengers scrambling to get home.

(credit: CBS)

Even the successful reunions this year didn’t come without frustrations along the way. In addition to flights being canceled, the A-Line had to cancel a trip Friday evening due to a lack of staff. It’s a federal requirement to have a second crew member on board.

The Muser family spent Christmas Eve at Denver International Airport, anxiously waiting for the tenth member of their family to arrive. Even the family dog came along for Michael Muser’s big welcome.

Airport delays had homesick travelers trying to move the clock. In the terminal, 9-year-old Nathan Muser was also staring at his watch.

(credit: CBS)

“When he was leaving for basic training, he couldn’t bring his watch. I put it on and I’m still wearing it,” said Nathan, holding a big sign that read: WELCOME HOME MICHAEL.

His big brother Michael is also a US Marine. He’s been training in North Carolina.

Like many families during COVID-19, this is the longest they’ve ever been apart.

“It’s not just the restrictions potentially with travel, but just the military lifestyle. You don’t always get a choice,” said Michael’s father.

This Christmas, the hugs are tighter and smiles shine through the masks. It’s the one time in an airport when you wish time would stop.

“He’ll be here for a week and it’ll be really cool having him home!” said Nathan.

Tori Mason