Widespread flight cancelations moved from the Deep South into the Northeast and Great Lakes on Tuesday, as a major storm threatened to dump a foot of snow or more on New York and Boston.
Travelers checked airport departure boards Tuesday to learn the fate of their business trips and family visits. Airlines eased ticket-change policies to encourage fliers to delay trips until later in the week.
By mid-afternoon, Delta Air Lines had canceled 1,700 flights after scrubbing about 2,000 flights the previous two days. Most were in Atlanta but included evening flights between Washington and New York, said spokesman Anthony Black. The airline said it has “proactively” cancelled about 800 Delta and Delta Connection flights system wide for Wednesday.
US Airways canceled nearly 1,000 flights and 340 for Wednesday.
American canceled 500 flights, including more than 100 in Chicago, on the western edge of the snowy weather front. The airline also canceled many flights that would end Tuesday night between Washington and Boston so that the planes wouldn’t be snowed in Wednesday morning, said spokesman Ed Martelle.
American expected at least 350 cancelations on Wednesday, but one type of flight was sacrosanct — international ones leaving out of New York’s Kennedy Airport. “We’re going to get those out,” Martelle said.
To the south, airports including Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International, the world’s busiest, struggled for a third day with snow and ice. About 1,900 flights were canceled throughout the Southeast on Tuesday, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.
AirTran Airways, which shut down its Atlanta hub Monday, said flights were resuming Tuesday but with delays and some new cancellations.
Airlines reported huge numbers of calls to reservations centers from passengers looking to rebook.
AirTran told customers that because of the heavy call volume, they should rebook themselves on the company’s website.
Airline call centers were overwhelmed during a Christmas weekend storm that shut down East Coast airports, causing the cancellation of more than 10,000 flights in one of the busiest travel periods of the year. Airlines hoped to do better this time — helped by the fact that flights are not as full, making it easier to rebook stranded passengers.