Travelers across the U.S. were divided into two groups on Friday: those who were thrown into logistical chaos by the “bomb whirlwind” and those who survived, at least temporarily.
A total of 5,100 flights domestically, in and out of the country were canceled on Friday, while another 8,400 were delayed, disrupting holiday travel plans for thousands of travelers, according to flight-tracking service Flight Aware.
As of Friday morning, major airports in Cleveland, Buffalo and Chicago reported cancellations of more than half of all departing flights, according to Flight Aware.Freezing rain causes close all runways At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, thousands of people are busy making holiday travel plans.
Some airlines, including Alaska Airlines and Allegiant Airlines, canceled more than a third of their flights on Friday. More than 400 Southwest Airlines flights were delayed. Canadian low-cost airline WestJet and its subsidiary Swoop reported the highest rates of cancellations: 48% and 81%, respectively.
But as of Friday afternoon, only 5% to 6% of flights at hub airports in Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles were cancelled.
“It’s a very normal trip for me,” said Dr. Caroline Neary. A student flew home Friday for Christmas from Houston to West Palm Beach, Fla., via Atlanta. “I’m worried about the knock-on effects of the storm elsewhere, but I haven’t seen any cancellations or major delays on my trip.”
A wave of colder weather has arrived in New York on Friday afternoon, with temperatures dropping below freezing followed by gusty winds. The cold is expected to hit Miami Saturday morning, leaving many travelers preparing for the worst.
The weather damage has been staggering, even as travel volumes have approached pre-pandemic levels. In mid-December, AAA predicted that nearly 7.2 million Americans would fly between December and December. 23 and January. 2. Another 102 million people will drive at least 50 miles during the holidays.
The surge in anticipation of holiday travel has added to the pressure, with travelers taking to social media to complain about long queues at airport check-in desks and delays on the tarmac. By late Friday morning, disruptions elsewhere in the country had begun to affect hitherto unaffected places, including San Diego and Houston.
Travelers in the Northeast were already experiencing headaches Friday morning before the storm hit the region. Boston Logan Airport reported cancellations of 25 percent of its outbound flights, and LaGuardia Airport had one-third of its flights cancelled. In Buffalo, almost four out of five scheduled arrivals were canceled.
“When you have one or two major hubs affected, it’s felt throughout the system,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Say Friday morning. “Currently, we have multiple major aviation hubs affected.”
Many departures were canceled not because of poor conditions at that airport, but because bad weather elsewhere delayed or disrupted earlier arriving flights, leaving no planes available where they were needed.
Major U.S. airlines including American, Delta and United said they would waive change fees for some travelers affected by the bad weather.
Snow and ice hamper both ground and air travel. Amtrak announced Wednesday that out of an “out of an abundance of caution,” it will be canceling trains on its Midwestern routes through the weekend, including between Chicago and Michigan. On Friday, it added several Vermont routes to the list.
Nationwide outage leaves more than a million customers without power, with additional Danger and driver delays.