Friday flight cancellations top 5,900, disrupting holiday travel

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(CNN) — Friday’s winter weather continues to disrupt holiday travel across the United States, with travelers facing delays and cancellations during one of the busiest times of the year.

According to flight tracking site FlightAware, 5,934 flights were canceled on Friday after nearly 2,700 on Thursday.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, New York’s LaGuardia Airport, Chicago O’Hare, Denver International Airport and Detroit Metro Airport had the most cancellations on Friday, according to FlightAware data. In Canada, Toronto topped flight cancellations.

In addition to cancellations, there were 10,949 delays among flights that were still departing.

Over 1,500 flights had already been canceled as of 7am on Saturday, but only 45 flights have been canceled so far over Christmas.

A snowstorm hit New York’s Buffalo Niagara International Airport, which had to completely shut down flights on Friday.

“Buffalo Airport Airfield CLOSED DUE TO DANGEROUS WEATHER CONDITIONS,” tweeted, with all flights scheduled for the evening canceled. Airport official Twitter account.

Over 70% of flights have been canceled at the Cleveland and Grand Rapids, Michigan airports.

ground stop

The Federal Aviation Administration announced a ground stop Friday morning for flights to American Airlines’ secondary hub, Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, and Reagan National Airport near Washington, DC.

In the Pacific Northwest, flights to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Portland International Airport were also grounded Friday morning due to snow and ice, the FAA said.

The FAA says the change in atmospheric pressure associated with this storm will create strong winds at airports from Boston to Atlanta.

Chicago and Denver airports saw a ton of cancellations and delays on Thursday. Snow and ice at Chicago O’Hare International Airport averaged about three hours of delays on Thursday.

storm is bad timing

Airlines have issued winter weather waivers that allow passengers to rebook for free for a limited period of time. See here for links to airline disclaimers and other air travel strategies.

The increase in cancellations is making it difficult for passengers to rebook and arrive in time for Christmas against the clock and weather. This year’s flights were busier than before, even before the storm disrupted travel schedules.

“We hear that travel is still down by 5-10%, but many people may not realize it, but the number of flights in the air is actually down by 15-20%. It means there is,” Scott Keyes of Scott’s Cheap Flight told CNN.

“The planes that are actually flying today are more packed than they were before the pandemic, so there aren’t as many empty seats to switch to if a flight is canceled or delayed,” Keys said.

Train and bus services are also a hit

Amtrak has also been forced to delay or cancel passenger service on some routes in the Midwest and Northeast.

Click here for details on railway suspension

“Customers who have reservations for trains that are being changed will generally be accommodated for trains with similar departure times or on different dates,” Amtrak said in a notice.

“Amtrak will waive the surcharge for customers attempting to modify reservations during the modified schedule by calling the Reservations Center at 1-800-USA-RAIL.”

Meanwhile, Greyhound, the largest provider of intercity bus service, issued a service alert Thursday night, indicating that travel in the Midwest or northern Northeast may be canceled or suspended.

Greyhound said riders can call 1-833-233-8507 to reschedule.

Winter weather is also impacting service for local intercity bus company Jefferson Lines, which operates in 14 states.

In an alert posted on its website, the company said about 30 routes were canceled on Friday, with several cancellations listed on Saturday and Sunday. includes Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Duluth and Kansas City.
Affected travelers should refer to Bus Tracker or call 1-858-800-8898.

story of a traveler

Shane Phillips told CNN that he had planned to fly from Los Angeles to Seattle to visit family, but when he woke up Friday morning, the Alaska Airlines flight had been cancelled.

It would have been Phillips’ first time back in Washington state since before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I think they (his family) are upset, but I understand because they are the ones experiencing the unusual weather,” he said.

Phillips says he’s mostly disappointed, but not too surprised. “We knew the weather was going to be bad, but we were hoping we could get there before the freezing rain hit,” he added.

The Phillips family lives about two hours north of Seattle, so they could have been stranded once they got to the airport, he says. “They completely cut off transit, so I don’t know how they left the airport,” Phillips said.

Other airlines had flights available on Saturday, but Phillips said those priced at $1,000 one way, “that’s too expensive.”

Phillips says he will do his best. He plans to attend a friend’s holiday party that he couldn’t attend if he had come to Seattle.

Pete Muntean, Gregory Wallace, Rebecca Reese, Daniel Sills, Marnie Hunter, Ross Levitt, Dave Hennen, Paul P. Murphy, Carol Alvarado, and Sarah Smart contributed to this report.

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