Flight Cancellations Top 2,300 as Snowstorm Wreaks Havoc

Dec 9, 2017

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Friday and Saturday have been rough days for many travelers up and down the East Coast, with winter weather fueling the cancellation of over 1,500 flights Friday and another 800 flights Saturday.

According to flight cancellation/delay tracker FlightAware, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport (ATL) continues to be the hardest hit. 1,171 cancellations rocked options on Friday with another 414 cancellations in place as of 2pm Saturday. That’s a cancellation rate over 42% for Friday and 21% for Saturday (so far) at the world’s busiest airport.

Crazily enough, FlightAware’s number seem to be low compared to other sources. While FlightAware chalked up 801 cancellations for Delta on Friday, Delta itself reports having over 1,000 cancellations that day after snow wrecked operations at its ATL hub. Through 10:15am Saturday, Delta reports “more than 350” cancellations vs. 322 cancellations tracked by FlightAware through 2pm Saturday.

The Delta flights that did operate experienced some truly incredible delays. In an FAA ground delay program for Atlanta-bound Delta flights, the system calculated an average delay of 389 minutes (6:29 hours) with a maximum delay of 1,104 minutes (18:24 hours) thanks to a cap of just 26 flights per hour operating to the stricken airport:

Meanwhile, just 404 miles south of ATL, weather at the Orlando airport (MCO) has been warm, as the airport was sure to point out with a cheeky post on Twitter:

But, that hasn’t spared MCO’s airport from cancellations. 12 Orlando-bound flights and 19 Orlando-originating flights have been cancelled due to the weather. 16 of the combined 31 cancellations are ATL-related.

Northeastern airports are a lot more prepared to deal with winter weather than the South, but Northeast airports are still seeing cancellations. From Friday through 2pm Saturday, FlightAware has tracked:

  • Baltimore/Washington (BWI): 120 cancellations – including 27 flights to/from ATL
  • Newark (EWR): 118 cancellations – including 29 flights to/from ATL
  • Boston (BOS): 76 cancellations – including 22 flights to/from ATL
  • LaGuardia (LGA): 69 cancellations – including 25 flights to/from ATL

Weather Waivers

What should you do if you want to avoid getting stuck at the airport? Many airlines have issued travel waivers for affected airports, allowing free flight changes. So if you have some flexibility in your travel plans, it might be a good idea to try and avoid the storm.

Remember, if you can’t delay your itinerary, airlines aren’t responsible for paying for your meals or hotels in the case of weather-related delays/cancellations. That’s why we recommend using a credit card with flight delay/cancellation insurance that can reimburse you for weather issues, including the Citi Prestige ($500 per passenger for 3+ hour delay), the Chase Sapphire Reserve ($500 per ticket for 6+ hour or overnight delay) and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card ($500 per ticket for 12+ hour or overnight delay).

Alaska Airlines

  • Travel date: December 9-10
  • Airports covered: Baltimore (BWI); Boston (BOS); New York – LaGuardia (LGA); New York – Kennedy (JFK); Newark (EWR); Philadelphia (PHL); Washington – Dulles (IAD); Washington – Reagan (DCA)
  • Must have bought your ticket by: December 8
  • [Alaska] will waive the change fees and the difference in the price of the ticket if the new travel is booked to or from the affected cities in the same cabin and completed on or before December 15, 2017.
  • Tickets must be exchanged or refunded on or before December 15, 2017.
  • You may request a refund if you choose not to travel at all.

American Airlines

NORTHEAST

  • Travel date: December 9
  • Airports covered: Albany, New York (ALB); Baltimore, Maryland (BWI); Binghamton / Johnson City, New York (BGM); Boston, Massachusetts (BOS); Buffalo, New York (BUF); Charlotte, North Carolina (CLT); Hampton / Newport News, Virginia (PHF); Hartford, Connecticut (BDL); Islip, New York (ISP); Ithaca, New York (ITH); New York Kennedy, New York (JFK); New York LaGuardia, New York (LGA); Newark, New Jersey (EWR); Norfolk, Virginia (ORF); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (PHL); Providence, Rhode Island (PVD); Raleigh / Durham, North Carolina (RDU); Richmond, Virginia (RIC); Rochester, New York (ROC); Stewart Newburgh, New York (SWF); Syracuse, New York (SYR); Washington Dulles, Washington D.C. (IAD); Washington Reagan, Washington D.C. (DCA); Watertown, New York (ART); White Plains / Westchester County, New York (HPN)
  • Must have bought your ticket by: December 8
  • Rescheduled travel allowed from: December 7-12
  • You can’t change your origin or destination city. You must rebook in the same cabin or pay the difference.

ATLANTA

  • Travel date: December 9
  • Airports covered: Atlanta, GA (ATL)
  • Must have bought your ticket by: December 7
  • Rescheduled travel allowed from: December 7-12
  • You can’t change your origin or destination city. You must rebook in the same cabin or pay the difference.

Delta

NORTHEAST

  • Travel date: December 9
  • Airports covered: Boston, MA (BOS); New York, NY – Kennedy (JFK); New York, NY – LaGuardia (LGA); Newark, NY – (EWR); Newburgh, NY (SWF); White Plains, NY (HPN)
  • Ticket must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin by December 12.
  • When rescheduled travel occurs beyond December 12, 2017, the change fee will be waived. However, a difference in fare may apply. Final travel must be completed by end of ticket validity, one year from date of original issue.
  • If travel is not able to be rescheduled within these guidelines, customers may cancel their reservation and apply any unused value of the ticket toward the purchase of a new ticket for a period of one year from the original ticket issuance. Applicable change fee and fare difference will apply for new travel dates.

ATLANTA

  • Travel date: December 8-10
  • Airports covered: Atlanta, GA (ATL)
  • Ticket must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin by December 13.
  • When rescheduled travel occurs beyond December 13, the change fee will be waived. However, a difference in fare may apply. Final travel must be completed by end of ticket validity, one year from date of original issue.
  • If travel is not able to be rescheduled within these guidelines, customers may cancel their reservation and apply any unused value of the ticket toward the purchase of a new ticket for a period of one year from the original ticket issuance. Applicable change fee and fare difference will apply for new travel dates.

Frontier

  • Travel dates: December 8-9
  • Airports covered: Atlanta, GA (ATL); New Orleans, LA (MSY)
  • Must have bought your ticket by: December 7
  • Customers may make one itinerary change – rules/restrictions regarding standard change fees, advance purchase, day or time applications, blackouts, and minimum or maximum stay requirements will be waived.
  • Travel must be completed no later than December 16, 2017.
  • Origin and destination cities may be changed.

JetBlue

  • Travel dates: December 9
  • Airports covered: Albany, NY (ALB); Boston, MA (BOS); Hartford, CT (BDL); Newark, NJ (EWR); Newburgh, NY (SWF); New York, NY (JFK, LGA); Philadelphia, PA (PHL); Portland, ME (PWM); Providence, RI (PVD); Raleigh-Durham, NC (RDU); Richmond, VA (RIC); Washington, DC (BWI, DCA, IAD); White Plains, NY (HPN); Worcester, MA (ORH)
  • Must have bought your ticket by: December 8
  • Customers may rebook their flights for travel through December 12

Spirit

  • Travel dates: December 9
  • Airports covered: Atlantic City, NJ (ACY); Boston, MA (BOS); Baltimore, MD (BWI); New York, NY – LaGuardia (LGA); Newark, NJ (EWR); Philadelphia, PA (PHL)
  • Modification Charge/Fare Difference waived through: December 12, 2017
  • After this date the modification charge is waived, but a fare difference may apply.

Southwest

  • Travel dates: December 9
  • Airports covered: Albany (ALB); Baltimore (BWI); Boston (BOS); Hartford (BDL); Islip-Long Island (ISP); Manchester (MHT); New York-LaGuardia (LGA); Newark (EWR); Philadelphia (PHL); Portland (PWM); Providence (PVD); Richmond (RIC); Washington, DC-Dulles (IAD); Washington, DC-National (DCA)
  • Customers who are holding reservations on Saturday, December 9, and want to alter their travel plans may rebook in the original class of service or travel standby (within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city-pairs and in accordance with [Southwest’s] accommodation procedures) without paying any additional charge.

United

  • Travel dates: December 9
  • Airports covered: Baltimore, MD (BWI); Boston, MA (BOS); Hartford, CT (BDL); New York/Newark, NJ (EWR); New York-Kennedy, NY (JFK); New York-LaGuardia, NY (LGA); Philadelphia, PA (PHL); Providence, RI (PVD); Washington, DC – Dulles (IAD); Washington-National, DC (DCA); White Plains, NY (HPN)
  • The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing on or before December 12, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.

Virgin America

  • Travel dates: December 9-10
  • Airports covered: Baltimore (BWI); Boston (BOS); New York – Kennedy (JFK); Newark (EWR); Philadelphia (PHL); Washington – Dulles (IAD); Washington – Reagan (DCA)
  • Must have bought your ticket by: December 8
  • [Virgin America] will waive the change fees and the difference in the price of the ticket if the new travel is booked to or from the affected cities in the same cabin and completed on or before December 15.
  • You may request a refund if you choose not to travel at all.
  • Tickets must be exchanged or refunded on or before December 15, 2017.

Featured image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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