Amidst the worst Christmas weekend storm in US history, flight cancellations have topped more than 1o,000 and it’s not over yet.
It’s more than just bad weather, winter storms spread across much of the United States has caused significantly delayed flights and cancellations across the country. Temperatures in Minnesota reached as low as -35° F and while extremely cold, might not be unique for this time of year. However, nearly the entire country is blanketed in icy weather, dicey conditions, snow, and wind.
Forecasters have said that winter storm, Elliot is the worst ever to hit the United States over a Christmas weekend. Noted not just for its snowfall and cold conditions, the storm’s breadth and reach has been a large part of the problem. Some have died, and a million are without power.
Airlines Cancel 10,000+ Flights
West Palm Beach, Florida dropped to 36°, Harlingen, Texas, to 30°, Dallas, and Houston were both below freezing. Warmer cities that have limited equipment and experience to deal with major winter snow events struggle to get planes but cities buried up north also mean planes can’t get to other destinations causing cancellations even in cities where there is no inclement weather.
This weekend has been one of the worst for cancellations with more than 10,000 flights and counting not flying and backing up the system.
“Wind and blowing snow could cause delays in Chicago, and wind could cause delays in and around Washington, D.C., New York, Boston and Philadelphia,” the FAA said Saturday morning. “Seattle, San Francisco and airports serving Colorado ski resorts could see delays from low clouds and visibility.” – CNBC
All of the above cities heavily impact American Airlines and United Airlines. JetBlue added that it’s not just flights, but staff shortages affecting the mess:
“Winter Storm Elliott has driven thousands of weather-related delays and cancellations across the nation,” according to a JetBlue staff memo, which was seen by CNBC. “There has also been an increased Crewmember absence rate, leaving us with many open trips for today.”
Speculation grew that Southwest faced a ramper rebellion in Denver though the airline dismissed that notion.
Will They Be Home For Christmas?
With icy conditions on the roads, power outages across the country, and scant opportunity to escape some are wondering if they will make it to their destinations at all for Christmas.
“Airlines and travelers were hard-pressed to find alternative flights before the holiday because planes were booked so full and schedules dropped sharply during the weekend. The Federal Aviation Administration said schedules peaked at 47,554 flights on Thursday, dropping to 30,875 on Saturday and just 27,997 on Sunday, Christmas Day.
That could force airlines to provide cash refunds to travelers who decide to scrap their trips altogether because of the delays.” – CNBC
Saturday cancellations were easing, as the push toward Christmas morning on Sunday advances, fewer cancellations is welcomed news, but doesn’t mean everyone trapped will get where they were going when the mess started on Wednesday.
The airline backlog will likely extend through Sunday and may mean a Boxing Day celebration for some.
Extensive flight disruptions have made Christmas 2022 a struggle for airlines and travelers alike. With hazardous conditions across most of the country, it’s unlikely the airlines will be able to recover fully before the holiday arrives. The hope now is for a safe trip whenever travelers arrive at their destination.
What do you think? Were you affected this weekend? Did you cancel your trip or continue on?