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Airlines cancel hundreds of flights Monday as weekend mess spills into new week

April 4 2022
4 min read
JetBlue plane
Airlines cancel hundreds of flights Monday as weekend mess spills into new week
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A messy weekend for air travel spilled into Monday, with more than 550 flights canceled across the United States.

The cancelations at the start of the workweek came as airlines worked to fix an operation thrown into disarray on Saturday, when a series of severe thunderstorms in Florida forced carriers to cancel more than 1,900 flights around the country, according to FlightAware. Another 1,500 were canceled on Sunday.

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As with similar episodes over the past year, the episode led to a ripple effect of ongoing delays and cancellations as airlines repositioned aircraft and crews once operations were able to resume in the affected areas, and scrambled to replace crew members who had timed out mid-trip because of the delays.

JetBlue was among the hardest hit airlines on Sunday, with 373 flights canceled, or about 34% of its schedule. Southwest saw 400 cancellations — 10% of its schedule — while Spirit canceled 308 flights, or 37%. American Airlines canceled 271 flights — or 8% — while Delta, Alaska and United canceled at most a few dozen each.

Although cancellations continued on Monday, things appeared to be trending in the right direction. Spirit still had 234 canceled flights, or 29% of the schedule, by 1 p.m. ET, while JetBlue canceled 137, or 13%. Cancellations on Southwest were down to 59, or about 1%.

Even with cancelation rates improving on Monday, the impact of the weekend's issues continued with passengers taking to Twitter saying that they'd been told by airlines that they would not be able to be reaccomodated for as much as two or three days.

In a statement provided to TPG on Sunday, a spokesperson for JetBlue said that the airline was working to correct its operation following the impact of the Florida storms, which was amplified by air traffic control traffic management patterns.

Related: Here’s what to do if your flight is delayed or canceled

"We have unfortunately had to cancel flights this weekend, and today’s cancellations will help us reset our operation and safely move our crews and aircraft back in to position," the statement said. "We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and we are working to get them on their way as quickly as possible."

A spokesperson for Southwest said that overnight maintenance work on its technology platform Friday into Saturday had added to the issue, but noted in a statement that only seven flights had been canceled specifically because of that — the airline attributed the rest to the Florida weather and airspace congestion.

"We have all hands on deck to get delayed Customers and their bags onto available flights and we’re sharing additional guidance and wide flexibility to self-serve travel changes," the spokesperson said.

Air travel has been heavily affected by storms since early-winter, with continuous bad weather compounding operational difficulties during the holiday period linked to the spread of the omicron variant.

About 20,000 flights to, from and within the U.S. were canceled between Dec. 22 and Jan. 3.

Related: Snapshot: 1 in 13 flights were canceled during the holidays. How US airlines fared

The ongoing impact of storms has been exacerbated by surging travel demand, with domestic leisure demand surpassing 2019 levels. The trend is expected to continue through the summer travel season, particularly as international destinations lift various pandemic-linked restrictions.

Following disruptions last fall, airlines including Southwest and Spirit said that they were planning to increase hiring in order to build more slack in their systems to recover from operational disruptions. Every major U.S. airline has said they plan to add staff this year.

If you find yourself facing a canceled flight or severe delay, here are TPG’s tips for managing those flight delays and cancellations.

Featured photo by (Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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