Airlines delayed more than 8,000 flights in a stormy start to the week


Thousands of passengers had their flights canceled or delayed Monday as storm systems from Texas to the East Coast disrupted air traffic.

According to flight tracking site FlightAware, 1,485 US flights were canceled and nearly another 8,400 were delayed. American, Southwest and United were the hardest hit among major airlines; 39 percent of American’s flights were delayed, as were 40 percent of Southwest’s. JetBlue, a smaller operator with a heavy Northeast presence, saw fewer total flights delayed — but they amounted to 52 percent of its schedule.

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Some passengers complained on social media of multiple cancellations in one day in New York, seemingly endless customer service lines in Denver and hours spent on the tarmac and taxiing in Newark — only to have the flight ultimately cancelled.

“Last night was a disaster,” said Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, noting that the problems were weather-related.

Flash floods killed at least one person and forced people to flee their homes in the Dallas area, where rainfall at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport smashed records. Airports in Dallas, Newark, New York City, Austin and Houston saw the most cancellations and delays, according to FlightAware.

Nearly 60 percent of flights leaving Dallas on Monday were delayed and 14 percent were canceled. In Newark, more than a quarter of departing flights were canceled, and 40 percent of those that took off were delayed.

“Newark — that’s the seventh circle of hell,” said Brett Snyder, who runs the Cranky Flier consumer air travel blog and Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. “That is an absolute worst-case, miserable performance.”

Monday was the latest chaotic day for US airlines, which have been criticized for operational struggles over the last few months. Just Thursday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sent a letter to airline CEOs noting that disruption this summer has been “unacceptable,” with about 24 percent of domestic flights delayed and more than 3 percent canceled.

In an email, the Federal Aviation Administration said weather is the “dominant constraint that creates delays,” which was the case in the Northeast on Monday. Preliminary data showed the average delay across the national airspace was 37 minutes, with 92 percent of those minutes attributed to weather.

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American Airlines spokeswoman Sarah Jantz said in an email Tuesday that weather was the cause of the airline’s issues, especially at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport where the FAA had ground stops and ground delays in place.

“We are in recovery mode today,” Jantz said.

United “faced a challenging operation due to severe weather” in New York and New Jersey, the airline said in an email. “Our teams continue to assist customers on-site and ensure that travelers get to their destinations as quickly and safely as possible.”

Southwest also said it saw “some disruptions due to weather across the US” and issued waivers to passengers at many airports in Texas and the Northeast to let them change itineraries with no additional fees.

Airlines were still catching up Tuesday, although disruptions were not as numerous. According to FlightAware, more than 2,100 US flights were delayed as of early afternoon, with more than 500 canceled.

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