The chilly weather combined with the pandemic to frustrate air travelers whose vacations back home were canceled or delayed into the first days of the new year
The chilly weather combined with the pandemic to frustrate air travelers whose holiday flights back home were canceled or delayed into the first days of the new year.
As of Sunday afternoon, more than 2,300 US flights and more than 3,900 worldwide flights had been canceled, according to tracking service FlightAware.
A winter storm that hit the Midwest on Saturday made Chicago the worst place in the country for travelers to visit over the weekend as improvements to the area’s airports continued on Sunday morning. About a quarter of flights were canceled at O’Hare Airport on Sunday.
Southwest Airlines said it is working to help customers affected by the nearly 400 canceled flights nationwide on Sunday, which accounts for about 11% of its schedule. The Dallas-based airline said it anticipates even more operational challenges to come as the storm system pushes into the East Coast.
Delta Air Lines said on Sunday it was issuing travel discounts for flights planned this week from mid-Atlantic airports in Baltimore and Washington in preparation for forecasted winter weather.
American Airlines said most flights canceled on Sunday were canceled ahead of time to avoid last-minute disruptions at the airport.
SkyWest, a regional carrier that operates flights under the names American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express, flew about 500 flights on Sunday, about 20% of its schedule, according to FlightAware.
Airlines have said they are taking steps to reduce cancellations caused by the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. United is offering pilots three or more times their normal pay to take open flights through most of January. A union spokesperson said Spirit Airlines reached an agreement with the Association of Flight Attendants to double pay for cabin crew by Tuesday.
Airlines expect the extra pay and reduced schedules to get them through the holiday crush and into mid-January, when travel demand typically drops. The seasonal decline this year could be sharper than usual as most business travelers remain closed.