Thousands of flights canceled as nor’easter targets millions

Jan 29, 2022

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A raging storm is slamming into a huge chunk of the country right now from Maine to South Carolina. Airlines have canceled thousands of flights and the storm could snarl airline travel for several days.

“Travel is going to be a mess so if you’re traveling to or from the Northeast and if your airline hasn’t canceled your flight yet … save yourself the aggravation and postpone,” said JohnnyJet founder and editor-in-chief, John E. DiScala (aka Johnny Jet). He continued, “If you don’t have that luxury then pack some snacks and your patience.”

Winter Storm Kenan has sustained winds in a stretch of coastline with winds steady at around 30 miles an hour, and gusts up to 60 miles an hour. In Boston, they are expecting more than a foot and a half of snow. New York City is expected to get as much as a foot of snow.

NEW JERSEY, USA - JANUARY 07: Airplane runway covered with snow at Newark Liberty International Airport on January 7, 2022 in New Jersey, United States as massive snow storm hits the east coast. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Airplane runway covered with snow at Newark Liberty International Airport in January 2022. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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As you can imagine the airlines have their hands full again this weekend.

“The airlines began issuing travel waivers for this big storm as early as late Thursday, so the carriers are expecting a significant weather impact to their operations in New York City, Boston, and other parts of the U.S. East Coast,” said Tim Jue, a San Francisco-based reporter covering airlines and travel.

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

According to flight tracking company Flight Aware – as of 10 a.m. on Saturday, more than 3,500 flights have been canceled on Saturday, Jan. 29. Another 827 have already been canceled on Sunday.

Cancellations on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. (Screenshot courtesy Flight Aware)
Cancellations on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022. (Screenshot courtesy Flight Aware)

Jue told TPG that if readers were traveling anywhere in the Northeast today, ” … there’s a good chance your flight will not take off given the sweeping number of cancelations.”

Hardest hit so far? JetBlue canceled a whopping 68% of its scheduled flights today. Two of its hubs are among the hardest hit airports in today’s storm with both New York-JFK and Boston Logan (BOS) seeing blizzard conditions.

Regional carrier Republic canceled 62% of its flights today. United canceled 397 flights or about 22% of its schedule, and American Airlines cut 18% of its flights.

“We want to keep a close eye on what happens after the storm,” continued Jue, “Airlines have comprehensive plans in place for a winter storm recovery at an airport, but those plans are built for an era when the airline is fully staffed and there isn’t a highly contagious COVID-19 variant circling about.”

Indeed, according to Flight Aware, JetBlue has pre-emptively canceled 10% of its Sunday schedule and Republic has already canceled 19%.

To top it off, airlines are still recovering from a pretty messy operational meltdown that dragged on from Christmas into the new year. According to a TPG analysis, one out of every 13 flights was canceled over the holidays.

Related: Alaska cuts 10% of its January flights

“The big flight disruptions we saw in December 2021 were attributed not only to sick flight crews but also because of winter weather nationwide, said Jue. He continued, ” I do not think the disruption will be as significant, but you’re going to really want to triple check your flight status if you’re flying to the Northeast in the coming days.”

Featured image of Newark Liberty International Airport on January 7, 2022, by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

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