Travel

Airlines waive fees as 2,300 flight cancellations pile up

Air travelers faced a rough start to the week as wintry weather snarled flights from the Great Lakes into the Northeast.

The worst of Monday’s problems were in the Northeast, where flight schedules remained bogged down from wintry weather that moved through on Sunday. Snow was still falling Monday morning across parts of New England, though it was expected to wind down by afternoon. 

Nationwide, more than 660 flights had been canceled as of 7:15 a.m. ET, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. More than 475 of those were made preemptively by late Saturday as airlines pared flights in anticipation of rebooting their schedules on Monday.

Monday’s cancellations follow another 1,100 on Sunday and 578 more on Saturday. That brings the U.S. cancellation count since Saturday to about 2,300. The majority of the cancellations in that tally were made because of the weather system, dubbed Winter Storm Scott by The Weather Channel.

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For Monday, the hardest-hit airports were those serving New York City and Boston. Several mid-sized airports in New England also were seeing significant disruptions Monday.

At New York’s LaGuardia Airport, about 170 combined departures and arrivals had been canceled as of 7 a.m. ET. That represented about 10 percent of the entire day’s schedule there.

Close to 5 percent of the day’s flights had been canceled at New York JFK and Newark, New Jersey airports.

In Boston, about 10 percent had been canceled.

It was a similar story in Providence. Nearly 20 percent of Monday’s departures had been axed, but only a handful of arrivals were canceled. That suggests Monday’s cancellations were largely flights canceled as a result of planes that didn’t arrive Sunday during the height of the wintry weather there.

Other airports seeing a similar cancellation pattern on Monday included Hartford, Connecticut; Portland, Maine; and Manchester, New Hampshire.

Most big airlines were waiving change fees for travelers flying through airports in the storm’s path. American, Delta, United, Southwest and JetBlue all were among those with some sort of flexible rebooking policy in place.

Southwest canceled about 160 flights on Sunday and another 100 on Monday. While the carrier did suffer poor weather at many of its busiest airports, at least some cancellations were likely the result of an ongoing and increasingly bitter dispute with mechanics that has led to a higher-than-normal number of planes being taken out of service for maintenance. 

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