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Nearly 2,000 Flights Canceled Due To ‘Once In A Generation’ Winter Storm For Christmas

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Flying for Christmas? Be sure to check to see if your flight is still scheduled. A Grinch-like major winter storm that the National Weather Service is calling a “once in a generation type event” is threatening to cripple travel on the busiest travel days of the year.

Thursday and Friday are the season’s busiest travel days, with over three million travelers slated to depart from U.S airports each day, according to the travel app Hopper.

More than 1,250 flights have been canceled on Thursday and another 700 nixed on Friday, according to data from FlightAware, an app that provides real-time, historical, and predictive flight tracking data. Cancellations are expected to climb over the coming days.

As of early this morning, a combined 249 flights are canceled Thursday out of Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports, plus another 137 flights out of Denver International. A slew of airports across the country are seeing double-digit cancellations, including in Kansas City, Des Moines, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Boston, Baltimore, Nashville, Los Angeles, Orlando and Phoenix as well as Washington DC’s Reagan National, Las Vegas’s Harry Reid, New York’s LaGuardia, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, Dallas Love Field and Austin-Bergstrom.

Treacherous conditions are forecasted from sea to shining sea, as a strong arctic cold front moves southward across the southern Plains today and eastward tonight. The National Weather Service has issued an alert for a “a multitude of weather hazards through early this weekend, as heavy snowfall, strong winds, and dangerously cold temperatures span from the northern Great Basin through the Plains, Upper Midwest, Great Lakes, and the northern/central Appalachians.”

The Midwest and Central Plains will see the brunt of this storm, with heavy snowfall and high winds will result in “near-zero visibility and considerable blowing and drifting of snow. This will lead to dangerous, to at times impossible, land and air travel leading up to the holiday weekend.”

Major airlines have issued travel waivers allowing passengers flying in or out of impacted airports to rebook without paying the fare difference. For consumers looking to change travel plans or recoup travel expenses, much will depend upon the airline, itinerary and, in some cases, whether a travel insurance policy was purchased. Original tickets must have been purchased by a specific date and rebooked within a specific time period.

Every airline has different parameters. For example, United Airlines has four weather advisories covering 142 airports in total – 51 in the Central Northwest, 49 in the East, 28 in the Midwest and another 14 airports in Texas.

American Airlines has issued several winter travel alerts impacting 88 airports across the country.

Delta Air Lines has issued four separate regional weather advisories – for the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, Northeast and Mountain West – covering a total of 64 airports.

MORE FROM FORBESWhy You Should Never Fly After Noon During The Holidays

Southwest’s winter travel advisory covers 50 airports, while JetBlue’s winter travel alerts cover 16 airports in the East and four in the Midwest.

For travelers who decide to rebook flights, the golden rule is to book the earliest flight possible on your travel day. Flights scheduled to depart late in the day are more vulnerable to delays because airlines reuse planes and crews throughout the day. So when one flight is canceled or delayed, it causes a chain reaction for other flights that rely on the same resources. The domino pattern spikes over holiday periods simply because there are more flights leaving airports.


Flying for Christmas? Be sure to check to see if your flight is still scheduled. A Grinch-like major winter storm that the National Weather Service is calling a “once in a generation type event” is threatening to cripple travel on the busiest travel days of the year.

Thursday and Friday are the season’s busiest travel days, with over three million travelers slated to depart from U.S airports each day, according to the travel app Hopper.

More than 1,250 flights have been canceled on Thursday and another 700 nixed on Friday, according to data from FlightAware, an app that provides real-time, historical, and predictive flight tracking data. Cancellations are expected to climb over the coming days.

As of early this morning, a combined 249 flights are canceled Thursday out of Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports, plus another 137 flights out of Denver International. A slew of airports across the country are seeing double-digit cancellations, including in Kansas City, Des Moines, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Boston, Baltimore, Nashville, Los Angeles, Orlando and Phoenix as well as Washington DC’s Reagan National, Las Vegas’s Harry Reid, New York’s LaGuardia, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, Dallas Love Field and Austin-Bergstrom.

Treacherous conditions are forecasted from sea to shining sea, as a strong arctic cold front moves southward across the southern Plains today and eastward tonight. The National Weather Service has issued an alert for a “a multitude of weather hazards through early this weekend, as heavy snowfall, strong winds, and dangerously cold temperatures span from the northern Great Basin through the Plains, Upper Midwest, Great Lakes, and the northern/central Appalachians.”

The Midwest and Central Plains will see the brunt of this storm, with heavy snowfall and high winds will result in “near-zero visibility and considerable blowing and drifting of snow. This will lead to dangerous, to at times impossible, land and air travel leading up to the holiday weekend.”

Major airlines have issued travel waivers allowing passengers flying in or out of impacted airports to rebook without paying the fare difference. For consumers looking to change travel plans or recoup travel expenses, much will depend upon the airline, itinerary and, in some cases, whether a travel insurance policy was purchased. Original tickets must have been purchased by a specific date and rebooked within a specific time period.

Every airline has different parameters. For example, United Airlines has four weather advisories covering 142 airports in total – 51 in the Central Northwest, 49 in the East, 28 in the Midwest and another 14 airports in Texas.

American Airlines has issued several winter travel alerts impacting 88 airports across the country.

Delta Air Lines has issued four separate regional weather advisories – for the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, Northeast and Mountain West – covering a total of 64 airports.

MORE FROM FORBESWhy You Should Never Fly After Noon During The Holidays

Southwest’s winter travel advisory covers 50 airports, while JetBlue’s winter travel alerts cover 16 airports in the East and four in the Midwest.

For travelers who decide to rebook flights, the golden rule is to book the earliest flight possible on your travel day. Flights scheduled to depart late in the day are more vulnerable to delays because airlines reuse planes and crews throughout the day. So when one flight is canceled or delayed, it causes a chain reaction for other flights that rely on the same resources. The domino pattern spikes over holiday periods simply because there are more flights leaving airports.

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