Winter storm cancels, delays thousands of flights, disrupts holiday travel

Thousands of flights have been grounded as the US braces for a winter storm expected to hit much of the country.

As of 4:00 a.m. Sunday, more than 765 flights into, out of, and across the United States were delayed, according to flight tracking website FlightAware. Nearly 1,238 were cancelled, the data showed.

On Saturday, more than 7,855 flights were delayed and nearly 3,457 were cancelled.

More than 10,415 flights were delayed and 5,732 were canceled on Friday.

On Thursday, more than 10,028 flights into, out of, and across the United States were delayed and nearly 2,539 were canceled.

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As of Wednesday, FlightAware reported more than 8,100 delayed flights.

Dec. Passengers arrive for flights at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on Jan. 16, 2022. (Scott Olsen/Getty Images/Getty Images)

About 54 million passengers are expected to depart U.S. airports during the Christmas and New Year holiday season. Thursday and Friday are forecast to be the busiest travel days of the year-end holiday season, with 3.34 million passengers scheduled to fly out each day, according to travel app Hopper.

Tips for Holiday Air Travel from the TSA

Severe weather, including heavy snow, ice, flooding and strong winds, is forecast to hit the Plains and parts of the U.S. from the Midwest to the East Coast as early as Thursday. It is expected to last until Saturday with the rise of arctic air.

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Southwest, American, United and Delta Air Lines have already exempted passengers from traveling to various parts of the country if their flight is disrupted. The airline waives change fees and any difference in fares for certain flights affected by bad weather.

Christmas tree at the airport

A family passes a Christmas tree as they check in their bags at Logan International Airport, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa/AP Newsroom)

FlightAware spokeswoman Kathleen Bangs said more than 5% of the 2021 travel season has been canceled over the past decade. He said this was due to “bad weather including a major Pacific-Northwest storm – but mainly due to the absence of more airline and airport staff from the widespread COVID-19 Omicron variant”.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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