Winter storm flight cancellations exceed 5,000 Friday amid holiday travel

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Air travel disruptions continued for three days on Friday, with more than 5,000 flights canceled each day as a massive storm brought heavy snow, ice and bitter cold to much of the United States.

The past three days have given airlines and passengers headaches. More than 8,000 flights have been canceled since Wednesday, upending the travel plans of millions of Americans heading to the Christmas holidays. Expect more cancellations and delays on Saturday.

A storm hits one of the busiest holiday travel seasons in more than 20 years, bringing dangerous conditions to the ground. Some long-distance and regional rail services have been canceled through Sunday. Bus routes are suspended. State highway officials reported highway closures and serious collisions.

Thousands stranded at airport as winter storm causes flight cancellations

The number of cancellations has more than doubled since Wednesday, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.By 4 p.m. Friday, Southwest Airlines had canceled more than 900 flights. That’s more than any other US airline. American Airlines canceled about 350 flights, while United and Delta canceled about 290 flights each.

Airports with the most flight cancellations and delays due to winter storms

Most of the affected flights had destinations or origins in the Midwest and Northeast, including three airports in the Washington area. About 25% of flights to and from Reagan National Airport were canceled on Friday.

In Seattle, the runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was closed for several hours early Friday, after crews worked to de-ice the surface and resumed with limited operations. Nearly 50% of flights to and from the airport were canceled Friday as western Washington received a severe storm warning.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday cited forecasts of gusty winds, blizzards and bitter cold that would hamper airports from Seattle to Chicago to Boston. On the East Coast, high winds caused delays from Boston to Charlotte, affecting hubs in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, according to the FAA. Number cited by FlightAware 8,600 delays nationwide.

Amtrak and intercity bus companies Greyhound and Coach USA have also suspended some services through Sunday. Amtrak canceled some trains to and from Vermont on Friday as conditions worsened in the Northeast. Railroads suspended some train services on multiple Midwestern and cross-country routes earlier this week through Sunday.

Long-haul flights to and from Chicago are suspended, including Empire Builder, Cardinal, Capitol Limited, Southwest Chief and Lake Shore Limited. Amtrak asked passengers to check train status before heading to the station. Passenger rail companies said those affected will be able to rebook and rebook, and cancellation fees will be waived.

Roads have become dangerous in many places. At least 10 road deaths in four states this week have been linked to major storms. One person was killed and several others injured when 50 vehicles collided Friday afternoon on the Ohio Turnpike, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol. Traffic on the roads from Chicago to Nashville to Pittsburgh also slowed on Friday.

The National Weather Service has warned that cold arctic air and dangerous winds will continue into most of the eastern two-thirds of the country through the holiday weekend.

“The system will be used more extensively in travel entering the busy holiday travel times later this week, along with the potential for blackouts due to expected high winds, heavy snowfall, significant icing, and increased overall power consumption at locations. It will make an impact,” said the agency. Said.

The storm is the latest in trouble for an industry that has endured a summer marked by widespread cancellations that have caught the attention of lawmakers and regulators. The airline also spent last year’s Christmas and New Year season recovering from thousands of flights canceled amid heavy snowfall and staffing shortages due to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Businesses have largely recovered and have shown enthusiasm for their business in recent months.

Americans prepare for ‘once in a generation’ winter storm disruption

More than 112 million people were expected to move more than 50 miles from home between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, according to AAA. According to AAA, most of them (about 102 million) will drive a car. More than 7 million people will travel by air, and millions more will use trains and other forms of transportation. 2022 is likely to be his third busiest year for U.S. holiday travel since he began tracking numbers in 2000, according to AAA.

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