Thousands of Flights Delayed, Canceled as Storms Disrupt Holiday Travel — What to Know

Dangerous weather conditions across the country have led to over 9,000 total flight cancellations as of Friday morning.

An American Eagle plane taxis during a snow storm at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

David Ryder/Getty Images

More than 6,300 flights have been canceled so far on Friday and another 2,700 were canceled on Thursday as storms hit large swaths of the country on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Most airline delays on Friday were centered around Seattle with more than 210 flights canceled out of Seattle-Tacoma International airport, according to flight tracker FlightAware. Additionally, LaGuardia Airport in New York City is seeing cancellations rise do to the high winds with about 190 flights canceled as of Friday morning.

Southwest Airlines led the way with the most cancellations with more than 790.

The airport issues come ahead of a major storm threatening the Pacific Northwest with freezing rain and ice. Travel is to be avoided if at all possible until temperatures warm and the ice begins to melt according to the National Weather Service via a tweet.

That arctic blast is then expected to move toward the East Coast by Friday and Friday night, according to the NWS Weather Prediction Center.

Several airlines have issued flight waivers ahead of the storm’s impact as nearly 113 million people are expected to travel through Jan. 2. Thursday is expected to be one of the busiest travel days of the holidays along with Dec. 30.

Department of Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg said that while airline and airport staffing levels are high enough to handle the incoming traffic, “there’s not a lot of cushion.” 

“We really need to see more staffing on the airline side, we're especially looking at pilots and mechanics. Even in our own organization at the FAA, we're working to get more air traffic controllers prepared and qualified,” Buttigieg told CNBC during an interview on Wednesday. “It's going to be very important for that hiring to continue, that staffing to continue to create some cushion in the system, especially when you go into days like this where there's weather. Nobody can control the weather, but you can control how resilient the system is as you're dealing with it.”

He added travelers should stay informed and take advantage of the chance to change their tickets and travel ahead of or after the storm if possible.

Beyond flying, Buttigieg cautioned against driving in stormy conditions and told MSNBC travelers should take their time and “make sure that your car is set up for winter driving.” 

In total, nearly 102 million people are expected to drive for the holiday week as gas prices continue to fall.

Amtrak has also issued a severe winter weather alert, canceling several trains across the country.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles