Another difficult day for travelers as airlines canceled more than 2,200 flights

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Widespread Trip cancellation It continued Tuesday as a winter storm It struck the eastern United StatesWhich causes headaches for thousands of travelers.

As of 4:20 p.m. ET, airlines had canceled more than 2,200 scheduled U.S. flights, while about 6,800 were delayed, according to the tracking service. FlightAware. Thousands more flights were canceled or delayed over the weekend due to severe winter weather, including freezing temperatures, snow and strong winds, blanketing states in the Midwest, Northeast and South.

Among the most affected airlines was Southwest Airlines, which on Tuesday canceled more than 400 flights, or 11% of its daily schedule, while another 909 flights were postponed. Cancellations were also high at Alaska Airlines and United Airlines as they continued to deal with concerns about the safety of some Boeing 737 MAX 9 planes after a mid-air incident last week in which a plane crashed. The door plug fell off. Alaska Airlines plane.

Unlike 2022, when poor airline management and staff shortages affected holiday travel, bad weather is the main reason behind the current problems.

“Winter weather is the primary catalyst, but the big challenge is that this weather has been so intense and widespread,” Aeronautics Henry Harteveldt, head of the Atmospheric Research Group, told CBS MoneyWatch.

Harteveldt added that the schedule disruptions were severe enough that staff numbers were beginning to dwindle across airlines, while there was also a shortage of de-icing fluid on Tuesday. “When you have delays at major airports, everything spreads across the entire aviation network and there is a waterfall effect,” he said.

Travel industry expert Scott Keyes said the real test of airlines’ preparedness will be how they rebound once the weather improves in the coming days.

“For now, cancellations and delays are understandable and tolerable. In the coming days, when the weather improves, all eyes will be on the airlines to see whether they are able to return quickly or whether they suffer more cancellations as a result,” he said. Lack of preparedness.”

In contrast, airlines will have to consider future investments to maintain their operational efficiency in the face of worsening winter storms.

“Once airlines and airports get through this latest bout of bad weather, they need to really sit up and think about how to prepare for a future where bad winter weather storms may be more frequent, last longer, and temperatures and weather extremes are likely to be greater.” “From what we’ve seen,” Harteveldt said.

In the interest of airlines in terms of employment, the fact that this weather event occurs in the middle of the month and not at the end. Federal law limits the total number of monthly hours that crews, including flight attendants and pilots, can work. If it is closer to the end of the calendar month, crew members may be at greater risk of exceeding their maximum working hours. For example, the time spent waiting for an aircraft to defrost before take-off is applied to employee schedule maximums.

“I’m concerned that if we see bad weather happen again, it could have a cascading effect and we could see worse problems later in the month,” Harteveldt said.

He noted that when bad weather conditions occur, travelers should download their carrier’s app and pay attention to airline updates. If checked bags are necessary, it’s a good idea to keep essentials in your carry-on in case you end up stuck at the airport.

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