More than 17,000 US flights cancelled in five days around Christmas - and travel chaos is far from over

Almost 40,000 flights have been delayed since Thursday

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 26 December 2022 18:33 GMT
Busy travel day clashes with leftover weather delays on the day after Christmas

Horror weather across the US has led to more than 17,000 flight cancellations during the Christmas period - and the holiday travel nightmares are likely far from over.

In the lead up to the big day, more than 12,000 flights within, into and out of the US were cancelled between Wednesday (21 December) and Saturday (24 December), according to data from FlightAware.

Nearly 3,200 flights were axed on Christmas Day itself, followed by another 2,546 so far on Boxing Day (26 December) as of 1pm ET.

Airlines are still struggling to get back on track with even more cancellations scheduled in the coming days as Americans begin return trips.

The cancellations have been coupled with drastic delays affecting nearly 40,000 flights since 22 December.

Southwest Airlines appear to be among the hardest hit airlines, with 42 per cent of flights being cancelled on Christmas Day and 22 per cent so far on Monday, FlightAware figures show.

The cancellations and delays come as large parts of the US have been struck by unusually cold weather led by Winter Storm Elliott.

The cold temperatures are set to remain for much of this week as at least 50 people have died as a result of the chaos so far.

Residents have been trapped in their homes and tens of thousands of homes and businesses have lost power.

The cold snap covered the Great Lakes close to the border with Canada all the way to the Rio Grande on the Mexican border.

Around 60 per cent of US residents have been under some kind of winter weather warning and temperatures from east of the Rockies to the Appalachians have reached far below normal levels.

On Sunday, the National Weather Service said that the air coming down from the arctic “enveloping much of the eastern half of the U.S. will be slow to moderate”.

Buffalo in Western New York state has experienced hurricane-level winds amid snowfall that has led to whiteouts bringing the emergency services to a standstill.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said on Saturday that almost all Buffalo fire trucks were stranded and on Sunday, she urged area residents to comply with the driving ban that’s been put in place.

Buffalo Niagara International Airport is set to remain closed until at least 11am on Tuesday. The airport has been hit by more than 40 inches of snow in an area that has seen 27 deaths so far, the Associated Press reported.

Denver International Airport, which serves as a hub for United Airlines and Frontier Airlines, saw the most cancellations on Sunday – 167 or about 20 per cent of its departing flights.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the Atlanta hub of Delta Air Lines had 137 cancelled flights – about 17 per cent of its departing schedule.

Harry Reid International in Las Vegas, Nevada had 128 cancelled flights, about 20 per cent. Chicago Midway International had 92 cancellations on Christmas Day, which made up 34 per cent of its departing flights.

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