Tough January For Airline Passengers Continues
The winter storm that battered the East Coast of the United States continues to cause massive flight delays and cancellations. Charlotte Douglas Airport was the worst affected.
Much of the east coast saw temperatures plummet over the weekend along with a variety of heavy snowfall and freezing rain, causing further chaos in what has already been a tough January.
More than 50 million people were placed under severe weather alerts, with warnings of high winds, heavy snow, and icy conditions. The South East felt the brunt of the storm system’s power, with the Carolinas, in particular, seeing brutal effects.
North and South Carolina have reported over 63,000 homes without power due to the weather, while West Virginia, Georgia, and Pennsylvania have all seen thousands suffer similar issues. Further down the coast, parts of Florida saw rare flurries of snow, as well as some tornadoes that destroyed over 30 homes.
For airline passengers, it added another few days of misery, as more than 3000 flights were canceled, and a further 8000 delayed.
Charlotte Douglas International airport in North Carolina took the biggest hit in operations, canceling around 90% of its operations on Sunday, as well as a further 90 flights on Saturday. The airport is a major hub for American Airlines, causing rescheduling chaos around the country for them. The airport is a popular layover for many routes and left the airline scrambling to find alternative routes for otherwise unaffected airports.
As of Monday, they preemptively canceled 400 on Monday, with further delays expected.
American Airlines did announce they would be allowing passengers affected by the storm to rebook their flights at no extra fee. The announcement should soften the blow slightly for those left grounded this weekend.
Although American is undoubtedly the most affected airline, most other carriers are still seeing cancellations up and down the east coast. Delta has canceled 37 this morning, Southwest stopped 72, and United axed 82 as well.
The CEO of Delta announced this week that he expected things in the travel industry to be looking up by the end of March. If he’s correct, the beginning of 2022 is seeming like a perfect case of things having to get worse before they get better.
The early weeks of the year have seen the airline industry under brutal amounts of pressure from both inconvenient weather and the onset of the Omicron variant.
Poor weather is common at this time of year, but the added staff shortages have made the burden all the heavier for the airlines. Delta reported that 8,000 of their staff had tested positive for COVID in the first few weeks of January, severely depleting their workforce.
Things seem to be stabilizing for many of the airlines now, but unfortunately, another cold front may be on the way later this week. Temperatures are expected to stay at or below freezing for the next few days before the new front drags more snow and ice back into the equation. It’s not expected to be as severe as the past weekend, but airlines will be bracing themselves for more cancelations and delays.
Passengers hoping to fly this week are strongly encouraged to keep on top of the weather alerts and check on their airlines in the days approaching their trip. Many of the flights canceled have been announced hours in advance meaning a wasted trip to the airport could be avoided.
As Covid infections continue to rise, any travelers leaving the country are strongly advised to double-check entry requirements and restrictions at their intended destination.
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