USA: Thousands of flights cancelled on 26/27 January due to winter storm moving into the Northeast

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thousand of USA flights cancelled on 26-27 January due to winter storm

USA: Thousands of flights cancelled on 26/27 January due to winter storm moving into the Northeast

If you've got an airline ticket to travel on Monday, your flight may already be canceled. And your chances might be even worse on Tuesday.

Airlines reacted to a major snowstorm that’s expected to hit parts of the Northeast by cancelling more than 3,200 flights -- a move that came even before the first snowflakes began falling the region.

Carriers are also waiving change fees for flights at dozens of airports across the region.

As of 11 p.m. ET on Sunday, airlines had grounded 1,717 flights for Monday and another 1,492 for Tuesday, according to FlightAware. United, the nation's second-busiest carrier, said it expected to halt all of its Tuesday operations at several of the region's busiest airports. US Airways, in the process of merging with American, also planned to halt Tuesday operations at certain airports in the region.

That the first wave of cancellations came before the first flakes had fallen in the East Coast's biggest cities hints at the scope of flight chaos that awaits fliers during the next 72 hours.

Passengers with flights to or through the region should face major disruptions --- not only through Tuesday, but possibly through the remainder of the week. Even if airlines are able to resume flights on Wednesday, flights schedules could restart unevenly. And, there could be a backlog of stranded fliers competing for whatever empty seats remain on flights that do operate.

Delta Air Lines, which has hubs at both New York LaGuardia and New York JFK, confirmed to Today in the Sky on Sunday evening that it had grounded about 600 flights for Monday. United, which has hubs at Newark Liberty and Washington Dulles, said it planned to sharply curtail its operations at Newark elsewhere in the Northeast beginning Monday evening. "We plan to operate a full schedule at our Washington Dulles hub on Monday, but will limit operations beginning Monday evening at our Newark hub, LaGuardia and JFK," United said in a Sunday evening statement. "At this point, we plan to cancel all flights Tuesday at Newark, LaGuardia and JFK, as well as Boston and Philadelphia. We are waiving change fees that otherwise may apply, and most customers will find they can change their travel plans most quickly by visiting"

For Monday, most of the preemptive cancellations by carriers like American, Delta and United appeared to come on flights operated by their regional affiliates that fly feeder flights on smaller aircraft.
Regardless, the scope of the cancellations already announced by Sunday evening was staggering.

JetBlue had canceled more than 730 flights across Monday and Tuesday. That carrier's two biggest hubs -- New York JFK and Boston Logan -- each were forecast to see blizzard conditions. JetBlue's biggest chunk of cancellations was set for Tuesday, with more than 460 flights already canceled, according to FlightAware. As of 11:05 p.m. Sunday, United had canceled more than 600 flights for Monday and Tuesday. That figure did not include flights operated by its United Express affiliates.

Even Amtrak warned of problems. "With extreme conditions expected in some areas over the next 24 to 36 hours, crews are actively monitoring the latest forecasts and planning for the possibility that service adjustments may be necessary," Amtrak is planning to operate a normal Monday schedule, but may re-evaluate as conditions warrant."

As for the airlines, nearly big carrier had at least one hub expected to see poor weather from the storm. With so many airlines and hubs affected, the storm was expected to affect air travel across the United States on Monday and Tuesday. Even flights outside the storm's path are at risk. A flight from Nashville to Phoenix, for example, could become delayed or cancelled if the aircraft or crew operating that flight gets knocked off schedule by the snow in the Northeast.

To that point, FlightAware counted more than 55 preemptive cancellations Monday for North Carolina's Raleigh/Durham International Airport, where the forecast called for relatively mild weather. The cancellations likely stem from flights to or from New York or Philadelphia that had been grounded, sending a significant ripple effect to an airport where the local weather was not likely to be a problem for flights.