Transport Airlines

Winter Storm Causes Thousands of Flight Delays Across the U.S.

Jan 21, 2014 11:00 am

Skift Take

This is the second storm to cause major travel disruptions this year so airlines should be better prepared to handle the backlog and avoid widespread customer dissatisfaction.

— Samantha Shankman

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Zoran Milich  / Reuters

People wait for their delayed flights at LaGuardia Airport in New York January 3, 2014. Zoran Milich / Reuters

A fast-moving cold front will plunge the U.S. Midwest into a deep freeze on Tuesday and dump up to a foot of snow on parts of the East Coast, forecasters said.

Nearly 2,200 flights in the United States had been cancelled by early Tuesday, according to FlightAware, a tracking service.

It was at least the second time this month that an East Coast snow storm snarled air travel and interrupted thousands of flights. By some estimates, the first wave of cancellations earlier this month cost airlines and customers some $1.4 billion.

At northeastern airports from Washington to New York, more than a quarter of departing flights and more than a third of arriving flights were canceled Tuesday, FlightAware said.

Ironically, some had expected 2014 to be a stand-out year for airlines. Delta’s strong earnings report Tuesday could foreshadow a good year for carriers, driven by low fuel costs and consolidation among the industry’s biggest names, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said.

“The country has been carved up,” Cramer said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.” “The Justice Department has blessed it. This is a precursor to a series of great quarters.”

In Washington, federal government offices were closed, the Office of Personnel Management said in an early morning email. There was no precipitation in the capital at the start of the morning rush hour.

The cold front will drop temperatures below freezing as far south as northern Florida. The high in and around Minnesota and the St. Lawrence Valley will not top zero Fahrenheit during Tuesday’s daylight hours, forecaster AccuWeather said.

“Travel conditions will deteriorate with slippery roads and flight delays expected to unfold even in areas that avoid heavy snow,” AccuWeather said.

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