1,600 flights canceled: Major snowstorm compounds Boeing 737 MAX disruptions

Mother Nature is not being kind to travelers this long weekend, as snow in the Midwest is causing major disruptions at Chicago’s airports and threatening to affect flights throughout the country. With additional bad weather expected on the East Coast, flight delays and cancellations could continue to pile up on Friday and Saturday.

As of late morning on Friday, airlines had already canceled nearly 1,900 flights nationwide, according to data from FlightAware. This is exacerbating the already difficult situation for two major U.S. airlines, which are dealing with the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft following an emergency on an Alaska Airlines flight.

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Midway Airport (MDW) have been hit particularly hard, with hundreds of cancellations and a ground stop in place on Friday morning. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimated delays of at least two hours due to snow and ice.

Southwest Airlines is the airline most affected by these disruptions. The Dallas-based carrier has canceled at least 385 flights, about 9% of its operation, and hundreds more have encountered delays. This poses a significant challenge for Southwest at its major Midway hub, where the airline has made efforts to improve its winter weather ground equipment after a major operational meltdown in December 2022.

However, Southwest is not the only airline facing difficulties. Regional carrier Skywest, which operates flights under American, Delta, United, and Alaska Airlines, had canceled nearly 330 flights by late-morning Friday. The FAA has warned that high winds in parts of Texas and additional winter weather in other parts of the country could lead to further disruptions in the coming days.

These weather-related disruptions come on top of the ongoing grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft, which has affected Alaska and United Airlines. Both airlines have had to cancel hundreds of daily flights, as investigations are being conducted to determine if other similar aircraft are at risk. This has caused disruptions at key hubs like Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).

For travelers whose flights are canceled due to weather or other reasons, options may be limited. Airlines are typically not responsible for additional expenses such as hotel stays in the event of weather-related disruptions. However, if you have travel insurance through a credit card, it may provide some coverage for unexpected expenses.

Some airlines have implemented travel waivers that allow passengers to change their itineraries without penalty. Southwest, for example, has issued a waiver for flights in and out of nearly a dozen Midwest airports affected by winter weather.

It’s important to note that under federal regulations, passengers are entitled to a refund if their flight is canceled or significantly delayed and they choose not to travel.

In conclusion, Mother Nature’s disruptive weather and the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft are causing major challenges for air travel this long weekend. Passengers should be prepared for delays, cancellations, and potential changes to their travel plans. It is advisable to stay informed and check with airlines for updates and any available options for rebooking or refunds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *