Airlines cut 4,400 US flights as winter storm disrupts holiday travel

WASHINGTON: More than 4,400 flights have been canceled over a two-day period as a powerful winter storm batters the United States, coinciding with the start of a holiday season that some say could be the busiest in all the time.
More than 2,350 US flights had been canceled on Thursday and another 2,120 flights for Friday were scrapped, according to flight tracking website FlightAware, while passenger railroad Amtrak canceled dozens of trains through Christmas , disrupting holiday travel for tens of thousands of people.
Another 8,450 flights were delayed on Thursday, including more than a third of those operated by American Airlines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines.
Southwest canceled 865 flights on Thursday, about a fifth of all its scheduled flights, and had already cut another 550 for Friday.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that the winter storm was bringing blizzard conditions to the Midwest, with major travel disruptions expected in Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Delta Air Lines, which had canceled 140 flights Thursday out of 4,400 and 90 Friday by FlightAware, warned that “additional cancellations will be required Friday as the storm continues to impact operations in Detroit and the Northeast.” .
From 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday (0030 GMT), 25% of flights out of Chicago O’Hare International Airport and 37% of flights at Chicago Midway were canceled, while 27% of flights out of Denver were canceled.
Amtrak said it was canceling several dozen train trips scheduled in the Midwest through Christmas due to weather conditions, including trains in Michigan, Illinois and Missouri and trains between New York and Chicago.
Brandon Mattis, 24, was at New York’s La Guardia Airport looking to fly to Atlanta, Georgia to join the rest of his family for Christmas celebrations. His flight was canceled, he said.
“We’re trying to search our phones. Find other routes. Maybe even take a bus from here to Atlanta, which will take us about 9 p.m. So it’s really inconvenient. But all we can do just to get there (is) what we’re going to do.”
In the seven days ending Wednesday, the Transportation Security Administration said it screened nearly 16.2 million passengers, slightly below the 16.5 million screened in the same period in 2019, before the Covid pandemic.
Last year’s holiday period was marred by a Covid-19 outbreak among staff which forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights.
US airlines said earlier this week they were scrapping change fees and fare differences for passengers in a series of affected areas.


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