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Airlines cancel flights before Christmas

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Staff deice an Alaska Airlines plane during a snow storm at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in Seattle, Washington, US, on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022.

David Ryder | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Airlines canceled lots of of flights this week as winter storms, bitter cold and high winds snarled U.S. travel ahead of Christmas weekend.

Carriers scrubbed greater than 3,200 U.S. flights from Wednesday through Friday, in line with tracking site FlightAware. That period includes what airlines expected to be the busiest travel times before Christmas, which is Sunday.

 Chicago’s two foremost airports — O’Hare and Midway — and Denver International Airport had the largest share of canceled flights on Thursday. Airlines warned that the snow, ice, high winds and cold temperatures could affect travel from Seattle to Boston to North Carolina.

Wednesday’s cancellations accounted for about 2% of U.S. airlines’ schedule, while about 30% of flights were delayed by a median of 47 minutes, FlightAware data showed.

American, Southwest, United, Delta, Spirit, JetBlue, Alaska and other airlines issued weather waivers for dozens of destinations across the country, allowing travelers to alter their departures without paying a change fee or difference in fare.

Airlines routinely will cancel flights ahead of bad weather so travelers, crews and planes aren’t stranded at airports on the last minute, a situation that could cause disruptions to snowball.

The weather could hurt what airlines expected to be busy travel days to cap a rocky yr. United said it expects year-end holidays to be busier than Thanksgiving with 440,000 passengers a day on average. The carrier projected Jan. 2 might be the busiest day for the reason that Covid pandemic began.

Travelers arrive for his or her flights at United Airlines Terminal 1 ahead of the Christmas Holiday at O’Hare International Airport on December 22, 2022, in Chicago.

Kamil Krzaczynski | AFP | Getty Images

Disruptions over the spring and summer from bad weather and labor shortages sparked an outcry from customers and politicians, and prompted airlines to trim their schedules.

Late last yr and in early 2022, the omicron wave of Covid sidelined crews and led to lots of of flight cancellations.

American Airlines, for its part, has been offering extra pay for crews to work on peak holidays to shore up staffing.

“It’s all hands on deck to make sure our customers are cared for throughout the holiday travel season, including when severe weather hits,” American said in an announcement. “Critical to our preparations was sizing the airline for the resources we’ve got available and operating conditions we face, in addition to with the ability to react quickly to get our customers on their way once the weather clears.”

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