Airlines already canceling Friday flights as winter storm snarls Christmas travel

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With cold, frigid winds and heavy snow hitting 17 states, a “once in a generation” storm is complicating the travel plans of millions of Americans this holiday season.

This holiday travel season is expected to be the busiest for airlines since the pandemic began, but storms are now threatening the travel plans of tens of thousands of flyers. Cancellations and delays spiked on Thursday as we try to deal with winter weather.

As of 1 p.m. Thursday, 3,716 flights were delayed and 1,835 canceled, according to FlightAware, a site that tracks flight data.Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Denver International Airport (DEN) had the most cancellations and delays, but disruptions piled up at most U.S. airports.

Nearly 1,000 flights had already been canceled on Friday as US airlines preemptively reduced schedules in anticipation of the storm.

The National Weather Service has already advised travelers, especially those traveling by car, to keep their plans away from the storm, which the agency described as a “dangerous and life-threatening arctic gust of cold.” I’m here. The storm already affected the Great Plains on Thursday morning and is expected to move toward the Midwest, South and East Coast between Thursday and Friday. Nearly 100 million Americans have received winter storm advisories.

Many major airlines, such as Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines, generally speaking, allow you to change your itinerary once without incurring change fees or charges. We offer exemptions that allow you to: Recalculated fare. The dates and airports covered by the exemption vary by airline, but airlines are trying to allow customers to rebook flights before and after the storm.

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Before the storm, Airlines for America, a trade group representing the nation’s biggest airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, said it was ready to handle travel over Christmas and New Year. .

Sharon Pinkerton, A4A’s senior vice president of policy, said hiring more staff and adjusting schedules had largely solved the operational problems that had plagued the airline over the past year. repeated.

The Transportation Security Administration also said it was preparing for a surge in vacation travel. TSA administrator David Pekoske added that the TSA will try to keep his wait time at security checkpoints at airports nationwide to no more than 30 minutes.

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