According to flight-tracking site FlightAware, the airline canceled more than 2,000 U.S. flights by 3 p.m. Thursday and aggressively canceled more than 1,000 flights on Friday.
Delays are more widespread, with more than 5,300 people on Thursday as of 3pm
Chicago and Denver were hit hardest, with about a quarter of flights to and from each airport canceled on Thursday, according to FlightAware data.
Snow and ice cause an average delay of 159 minutes (nearly 3 hours) at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, according to a Federal Aviation Administration notice.
Airport temperatures are approaching freezing, and storms and snow are beginning to settle in the Chicago metropolitan area.
The FAA said aircraft departing from the Dallas Love, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver and Minneapolis airports require de-icing sprays for safe travel.
In the busy New York area, the FAA has warned that delays to Newark flights are to be expected due to visibility problems.
All three of the region’s big airports warn travelers that the incoming winter front could disrupt travel.
“Flying activity at #LaGuardiaAirport may be disrupted today and later on Friday due to heavy rain and high winds. posted on Twitter. John F. Kennedy and Newark Airport also posted similar notices.
Many airlines issue weather waivers Travelers can change their itinerary without penalty for short time slots.
If flights are still scheduled, the Transportation Security Administration recommends that passengers arrive at the airport earlier than usual.
TSA Marshal Director John Bush at Reagan National Airport told reporters that all airports are “expected to be busiest this holiday season in years since the pandemic ended. Yesterday and today. We’ve seen some of our busiest days, and we expect Friday the 30th to be another very busy day.”
But Bush added that the TSA is “ready to handle the additional volume and throughput of security checkpoints.”
Travelers coordinating plans
Maria Ihekwaba, who was traveling from Chicago to Clear Lake, Iowa with her granddaughter on Thursday morning, told CNN that she was trying to leave as soon as possible.
“You never know what can happen in Chicago, especially when you’re traveling from Chicago because it’s a windy city,” Ihekwaba said.
Kari Lucas, a traveler from San Diego, told CNN that she was visiting her sister and brother-in-law, but cut the trip short because she didn’t want to get caught up in the impending weather.
“I was worried because we don’t get blizzards in San Diego,” she said. “So I don’t like being stuck in airports for too long.”
“It seemed like the best choice right now,” she said.