LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A clearer picture is starting to emerge on exactly what went wrong with all those Christmas presents that didn't get delivered in time.

And it appears the UPS hub in Louisville was the crunch point.

UPS officials tell WDRB there was an unexpected surge in last-minute orders that overwhelmed the company's air fleet.

So while employees responsible for sorting packages worked furiously, the shipping giant didn't have enough space on its planes for them all.

That's despite the fact that UPS deployed its spare planes Monday, flew twice as many flights as usual on Christmas Eve, and leased an additional 23 planes to help.

"We flew every jet we had," said UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot. "We just had an unexpectedly large surge of volume at the last minute."

Mangeot says UPS currently owns 237 jets, and lease another 300 planes year-round in addition to the extra 23 aircraft it leased for the last-minute crunch -- a crunch that far exceeded expectations.

According to Mangeot, UPS was anticipating moving 7.75 million air packages (next-day, second-day) on Monday alone, which is triple the company's normal volume. Mangeot says UPS employees handled far more than that, but he didn't immediately know the exact number of packages.

Mangeot tells us UPS delivered 132 million packages during the week before Christmas. He says the "vast majority" of delayed packages were delivered on Dec. 26, and that any remaining undelivered packages would reach their destination by Dec. 27.

Federal Express also experienced delays, and has issued an apology to customers.

One analyst says it's easy to blame the carriers, but noted that retailers should take some of the blame for pushing next-day shipping offers in the final hours of the shopping season. Severe weather and a shorter shopping season were also cited as factors leading to the delays.

(There were 26 shopping days and 17 shipping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas -- the shortest holiday shopping season on record.)

A post on WDRB's Facebook page from a viewer who says she works at UPS says employees worked double shifts "trying to get all this stuff out to our customers" and many employees, including drivers and sorters, deserve credit for doing their best.

Stores like Walmart, Kohl's, and Amazon are issuing gift cards to customers whose packages did not arrive on time.

UPS is Louisville's largest private sector employer.


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