Thousands stranded at airports as airlines cancel flights amid storm in US


Thousands of stranded holiday travelers were no closer to home on Tuesday, as the aftermath of a deadly winter storm that grounded flights and throttled plans over the holiday weekend continued to play out at airline counters.

Disruptions were likely to continue throughout the week at airports, where canceled flights caused weary homebound travelers to sleep on floors and wait hours in line for customer service.

By 6 am Eastern time on Tuesday, more than 2,800 U.S. flights were canceled and more than 650 delayed, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking service. Dallas-based Southwest canceled almost 3,000 flights on Monday and had hundreds of run late, disrupting more than 80 per cent of its schedule as operational woes mushroomed in the wake of the storm. Tuesday’s unfolding chaos followed similar scenes on Monday, when more than 4,000 US flights were canceled and more than 8,500 delayed, FlightAware reported.

Southwest Airlines said in a statement on Monday that the travel disruptions were “unacceptable” and its network was behind because of the winter storm that slammed parts of the country with heavy snow, ice and strong winds much of last week. “Our heartfelt apologies for this are just beginning,” the company said, adding that it was working to address the disruptions by “rebalancing the airline and repositioning” crews.

By late Monday Southwest was in damage-control mode, responding to angry and frustrated customers on Twitter. The airline repeatedly apologized for the cancellations and offered assistance through direct messages, which did not appease everyone. No single region or airport bore the brunt of the cancellations. On Tuesday morning, more than 150 flights originating at Denver Airport, or about 17 percent of its outgoing traffic, were canceled, and more than 115 flights, or about 38 percent, were canceled out of Chicago Midway . More than 100 flights were also canceled at Harry Reid in Las Vegas, and similar numbers were reported for Baltimore-Washington International, Dallas Love Field in Texas and Nashville International in Tennessee. It’s been nearly a week since the winter storm began wreaking havoc for millions of people counting on airlines to get them from point A to B.

The number of canceled flight began to rise last Thursday, with airlines canceling more than 2,600. The next day, nearly 6,000 or about a quarter of all flights were canceled across the US On Christmas Eve, nearly 3,500 flights were canceled and slightly fewer, at about 3,200, were cut from the scheduled on Christmas Day.


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