Winter Storms Cause Chaos For US Air Traffic

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Thousands of flights have been canceled across much of the US due to a winter storm that sent temperatures plunging and left millions without power. Things are only getting worse. Over 3,000 flights and counting were canceled today alone, and airlines are issuing travel waivers to prevent passengers from being stranded as a result.

The ground crew at Philadelphia International Airport de-ices an American Airlines aircraft in the midst of a snow storm. Photo: Getty Images

Thousands of cancelations

An extensive area of the US is currently in the midst of severely hazardous winter weather conditions, and the airline industry is feeling it hard. American media are reporting an excess of 3,100 flight cancelations today, Monday 15th February, alone. At least a thousand are expected tomorrow as well. PowerOutage.us is reporting that over three million customers are in the dark at the time of writing.

Our data from RadarBox shows the extent of the cancelations. For example, William P. Hobby Airport in Houston (HOU) is showing nothing but “canceled” on its departure board today.

William P. Hobby Airport in Houston is showing nothing but cancelations all day today. Photo: RadarBox.com

Airlines are responding

To prevent passengers from being stranded in the midst of this chaos, several airlines have issued travel waivers.

Passengers booked on American Airlines flights in any fare class and who purchased their ticket before 11th February for travel between 14th and 17th February are allowed until 17th February to re-book their flight until 21st February, provided that the origin and destination airports are the same. This applies to all passengers traveling to/through/from the following airports:

  • Abilene, Texas (ABI)
  • Amarillo, Texas (AMA)
  • Austin, Texas (AUS)
  • College Station, Texas (CLL)
  • Dallas / Fort Worth, Texas (DFW)
  • Houston George Bush Intercontinental, Houston, Texas (IAH)
  • Houston Hobby, Houston, Texas (HOU)
  • Killeen / Fort Hood, Texas (GRK)
  • Lawton / Fort Sill, Oklahoma (LAW)
  • Longview, Texas (GGG)
  • Lubbock, Texas (LBB)
  • Midland / Odessa, Texas (MAF)
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (OKC)
  • San Angelo, Texas (SJT)
  • San Antonio, Texas (SAT)
  • Stillwater, Oklahoma (SWO)
  • Texarkana, Arkansas (TXK)
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma (TUL)
  • Tyler, Texas (TYR)
  • Waco, Texas (ACT)
  • Wichita Falls, Texas (SPS)

Delta Air Lines is covering five fewer airports than American Airlines, 16. These are:

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  • Alexandria, Louisiana (AEX)
  • Austin, Texas (AUS)
  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana (BTR)
  • Dallas / Fort Worth, Texas (DFW)
  • Fayetteville, Arizona (XNA)
  • Houston George Bush Intercontinental, Houston, Texas (IAH)
  • Houston Hobby, Houston, Texas (HOU)
  • Lafayette, Louisiana (LFT)
  • Little Rock, Arizona (LIT)
  • Monroe, Louisiana (MLU)
  • New Orleans, Louisiana (MSY)
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (OKC)
  • San Antonio, Texas (SAT)
  • Shreveport, Texas (SHV)
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma (TUL)
  • Wichita Falls, Texas (SPS)
JetBlue, Ski Breaks, New Routes
JetBlue’s waiver covers the fewest destinations. Photo: Getty Images

JetBlue’s travel waiver covers Austin, Dallas, and Houston. Frontier is allowing flight changes to/through/from all the way until 3rd March for these ten destinations:

  • Denver, Colorado (DEN)
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado (COS)
  • Austin, Texas (AUS)
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas (DFW)
  • Houston, Texas (IAH)
  • Little Rock, Arizona (LIT)
  • New Orleans, Louisiana (MSY)
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (OKC)
  • San Antonio, Texas (SAT)
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma (TUL)

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With Southwest Airlines, affected customers can push forward their booking free of charge for a 14-day period for these destinations if their flight was today or yesterday (14th – 15th February):

  • Albuquerque, NM (ABQ)
  • Amarillo, TX (AMA)
  • Austin, TX (AUS)
  • Cincinnati, OH (CVG)
  • Cleveland, OH (CLE)
  • Columbus, OH (CMH)
  • Corpus Christi, TX (CRP)
  • Dallas, TX (DAL)
  • El Paso, TX (ELP)
  • Harlingen, TX (HRL)
  • Houston, TX (HOU)
  • Indianapolis, IN (IND)
  • Little Rock, AR (LIT)
  • Louisville, KY (SDF)
  • Lubbock, TX (LBB)
  • Memphis, TN (MEM)
  • Midland-Odessa, TX (MAF)
  • Nashville, TN (BNA)
  • Oklahoma City, OK (OKC)
  • San Antonio, TX (SAT)
  • Tulsa, OK (TUL)
  • Wichita, KS (ICT)
Southwest Getty
Southwest passengers have a 14-day window within which to re-book their flights. Photo: Getty Images

Southwest is also allowing 14-day re-booking windows for passengers traveling to/through/from these airports today and tomorrow (15th-16th February):

  • Buffalo, NY (BUF)
  • Chicago Midway, IL (MDW)
  • Chicago O’Hare, IL (ORD)
  • Detroit, MI (DTW)
  • Houston, TX (HOU)
  • Pittsburgh, PA (PIT)
  • Rochester, NY (ROC)
  • St. Louis, MO (STL)

With United, the story is slightly more complicated, and it is fully explained on their notices page. The airline has four different travel waivers in place: Denver Winter Weather waiver, Great Lakes Region Winter Weather waiver, Houston Winter Weather waiver, and Southern and Central Plains Winter Weather waiver.

Have you been affected by the travel chaos? Let us know in the comments below.

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