Over 1K flights canceled as winter storm sweeps toward Midwest

More than 1,200 U.S.-based flights were canceled on Thursday as an arctic blast with cold, heavy snow and wind swept toward the Midwest, according to FlightAware.

Millions of people in the Upper Midwest and the Plains have been placed under blizzard and winter weather warnings as the weather system moves into the continental U.S. before heading east just days ahead of Christmas.

Most major airlines have announced waivers to allow passengers traveling through affected cities to rebook their flights for an upcoming date once the storm passes.

“We had a great Thanksgiving week with minimal disruptions,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday. 

“Unfortunately, it’s not going to be that way heading into Christmas,” Buttigieg continued. “We have not just a large portion of the country affected by these winter storms, but that includes some of the key hubs for many of our airlines.”

As of 8:15 a.m., at Chicago Midway International Airport, 25 percent of Thursday flights were canceled, the highest percentage of any U.S. airport, according to FlightAware.

At Kansas City International Airport, 23 percent of flights were canceled, followed by Des Moines International Airport, with 21 percent.

At Chicago O’Hare International Airport, a hub airport for American Airlines and United Airlines, 186 outbound flights were canceled on Thursday alone, the most out of any U.S. airport according to FlightAware, representing about 18 percent of airlines’ schedule there.

“In anticipation of winter weather arriving to the Chicagoland area later today, airlines at O’Hare have proactively canceled nearly 400 flights,” the airport wrote on Twitter, which includes flights already canceled for later this week.

Denver International Airport also saw major impacts from the storm, with 140 flights, about 14 percent of the schedule, being canceled on Thursday, according to FlightAware.

Airlines have already begun canceling flights for Friday, with 30 percent canceled at Gerald R. Ford International Airport near Grand Rapids, Mich., and 26 percent canceled at Detroit Metro Airport, a hub for Delta Air Lines.

Passenger output at the nation’s airports has ticked up ahead of the holiday weekend, with 2.42 million people traveling on Wednesday, according to Transportation Security Administration data.

Tags airline delays airlines Pete Buttigieg winter storm

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