Over 4,400 flights were canceled in the US due to Arctic weather.
More than 4,400 flights have been scrapped in the United States for the last two days after a ”winter bomb cyclone” hit the nation, disrupting holiday travel, Reuters reported.
Airlines canceled over 2,350 US flights Thursday and another 2,120 on Friday, data compiled by flight tracking website FlightAware showed.
Simultaneously, Amtrak’s passenger railroad canceled dozens of trains, affecting thousands’ Christmas plans. Trains between New York and Chicago and connections with Michigan, Illinois, and Missouri were also scrapped.
Furthermore, some 8,450 flights were delayed Thursday, including one-third of those operated by American Airlines, Southwest, and United. Southwest said it had scrapped one-fifth of all its scheduled flights or 865 routes on Thursday and another 550 on Friday.
FlightAware estimated that Delta scrapped 140 out of 4,400 flights on Thursday and 90 on Friday. In addition, the airline canceled 25% of departing flights at Chicago O’Hare airport and 37% at Chicago Midway, while 29% of departing flights in Denver were also scrapped on Thursday.
The Atlanta-based airline already warned of further cancellations and disruptions due to the worsening weather conditions in Detroit and the Northeast.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warned that airports in Chicago, Detroit, and Minneapolis-St. Paul would be most affected by the storm.
The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said that it screened over 16.2 million passengers in the seven days ending Wednesday. However, the number is slightly lower than the 16.5 million travelers screened in the same period in 2019, before the pandemic outbreak.
US airlines confirmed earlier this week that they waived change fees and fare differences for affected passengers.
US Transportation Secretary and former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said that he is ”going to be watching closely” to double-check whether airlines have become more resilient than earlier in the summer when there were ”extraordinary levels of disruption.”
‘’We have not just a large portion of the country affected by these weather conditions, but that includes some of the key hubs for many of our airlines,’ he said.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) is working on a package of measures, including legislative changes focused on protecting airline passengers affected by delays and flight cancellations. Still, it is unlikely to be finalised in the near future, the US edition of Politico noted.
Buttigieg has been a vocal advocate of passengers’ rights, especially regarding refunds. He even created a consumer dashboard to inform travellers what benefits each airline offers in case of cancellations and delays.
The Arctic storm has placed over 135 million people across the US and Canada under weather alerts, stretching from coast to coast.
Meanwhile, across the pond, the Christmas strike of the UK Border Force has started, BBC reported. However, despite the expectations for disruptions and flight delays, many holiday travelers did not complain on social media about significant inconveniences. Holidaymakers flying into Gatwick and Heathrow this morning described only a few disruptions despite the industrial actions. A passenger arriving from Berlin and stopping at Heathrow to change flights to the US said that there were no queues at sight.