Travelers in the U.S. faced disruptions again this week as severe winter storms caused thousands of flights to be delayed or canceled, and more disruptive weather is still on the way.
Midweek Flight Cancellations and Delays
According to flight tracking site FlightAware, a total of 1,775 flights within, into, or out of the United States were canceled on Wednesday, February 22, with a further 7,133 flights delayed. Disruption continued into Thursday, with a total of 1,165 flights canceled and 7,603 delayed. The situation is expected to continue through the weekend, with a rare winter storm affecting Southern California after breaking snowfall records in Oregon.
Regional carrier SkyWest canceled more flights than any other airline on Wednesday, with 406 (19 percent) of its flights canceled and another 724 (34 percent) delayed. This was closely followed by Delta Air Lines, which canceled 318 (10 percent) of its flights and delayed 868 (29 percent) that day.
Southwest Airlines, which faced an operational meltdown partially caused by disruptive winter weather during the holidays, also saw significant disruption on Wednesday, canceling 289 (7 percent) of its scheduled flights and delaying another 1,006 (26 percent).
Allegiant Air and Alaska Airlines also saw widespread disruption, canceling 13 percent and 10 percent of their scheduled flights, respectively.
Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) was the worst affected airport in the country, with 45 percent of outbound flights and 50 percent of inbound flights canceled on Wednesday, and 29 percent of outbound flights and 19 percent of inbound flights canceled the following day.
Airports on both coasts have also been affected, with Portland International Airport (PDX) and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) experiencing widespread cancellations and delays.
Some airlines fared significantly better, with United, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and JetBlue canceling just 1 to 3 percent of their flights each. American Airlines and United recently praised their own performances during December’s disruptive winter weather, with the latter airline taking shots at rival carrier Southwest in its Super Bowl ad.
Travelers saw some relief on Thursday, with Skywest and Delta canceling 6 and 7 percent of their flight schedules, respectively. Southwest canceled just 2 percent of its flights.
Disruptions Heading into the Weekend
But further disruption is expected on Friday as winter weather makes its way eastwards.
Airlines across the country have responded to the disruption by offering alternatives to passengers affected by the weather. For example, American Airlines is allowing any passengers who had flights booked to certain destinations on Friday to change their flight to another one up until Tuesday, while Delta is issuing a similar waiver to travelers up until Monday.
United has issued waivers for travelers in the Midwest and Northeast regions, while JetBlue is offering waivers for the same regions as well as destinations in the Rocky Mountains. Frontier and Spirit are also offering waivers for flights booked to certain destinations, while Southwest is offering customers to re-book flights to certain destinations within 14 days at no extra charge.