There is another storm forecast to hit the Northeast of the US, and many airlines are grounding flights in preparation of the travel disruption the winter weather is expected to cause. American Airlines and United Continental Holdings – which operates the United Airlines and Continental Airlines brands – have both suspended most services to and from airports in the New York area due to the forecast.
By yesterday morning, the airlines, along with others, had cancelled over 1,500 services scheduled for today and tomorrow. About 1,200 were for today and 313 for tomorrow. Most of these flights were due to take off and land at New York’s John F. Kennedy International and La Guardia airports, as well as New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport. However, many carriers were also cancelling flights in and out of Chicago’s O’Hare International, Philadelphia International and Dallas-Fort Worth International.
United Continental said that long-haul international flights to other hubs from Newark will continue, while other services will stop there and at John F. Kennedy and La Guardia. Spokesman Charles Hobart says that about 500 services will be cancelled before services resume around midday on Thursday. This is about 5% of the carrier’s schedule during the period.
American Airlines and American Eagle, its regional partner, have cancelled about 290 flights and will suspend other services in Philadelphia from noon. Delta Air Lines grounded 150 services and expects that number to increase; US Airways cancelled 36 flights; and JetBlue Airways also grounded some services. Southwest Airlines hadn’t made any decisions at the time of writing but said it was monitoring the storm.
The airlines expect to resume flights as soon as the storm passes, but until then, several have announced that their change fees have been waived for passengers whose flights have been cancelled. Passengers are advised to check the status of their services online and to find information about the waived change fees.
This follows the travel chaos caused by Superstorm Sandy just last week, which resulted in more than 20,000 flight cancellations over just a few days. Major airlines are said to have lost up to $45 million each. On top of that, city transit systems were completely shut down because of the storm.
However, this storm isn’t expected to be as intense and cause as much travel chaos. According to experts, airlines are cancelling flights now as a precaution. Aside from moving planes out of the storm’s path, they are avoiding the possibility of thousands of cabin crew and passengers being left stranded on aircraft due to delayed services. This follows the US Department of Transportation adopting tough penalties two years ago that will be imposed on airlines which keep customers trapped on delayed flights for over three hours.
Meanwhile, even though this coming storm isn’t going to be as bad as Superstorm Sandy, some residents may feel a little déjà vu. This is because some towns in New Jersey were ordered to evacuate after the National Weather Services predicted up to 4-foot storm surges on the state’s shores. This has also been forecast for the shores of New York City and Long Island, while flooding could also happen in Connecticut and Delaware. The National Weather Services has also predicted wind guests of up to 60mph.