Air travelers faced another day of delays and cancellations Saturday as an early-season winter storm moved from the South toward the Northeast. All big airlines were waiving changes for flights to a number of destinations across the East.
Nationwide, nearly 860 flights had been canceled and another 4,600 delayed as of 7:45 p.m. ET, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.
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For the second day in a row, Atlanta’s airport was the hardest hit. More than 415 flights had been canceled there so far on Saturday. With that total, about one out of every five flights in Atlanta had been canceled for Saturday. On Friday, nearly 1,200 flights there were canceled -- are more than 40% of the schedule.
The Atlanta disruptions were particularly troublesome for Delta Air Lines, which operates its busiest hub at the airport.
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“Prolonged wintry precipitation and plunging temperatures continue to adversely affect Delta’s hub operation in Atlanta,” the carrier said Saturday morning. Delta said the storm forced it to cancel 970 flights Friday close to 300 so far Saturday.
Southwest, the No. 2 carrier in Atlanta, also has been forced to cancel more than 130 flights across the nation on both Friday and Saturday.
By Saturday morning, the travel woes had expanded beyond the South. By mid-morning, snow had begun to fall in New York, Washington, Baltimore, Boston and Philadelphia. Snow totals were forecast to be less than 6 inches for most of the region, a relatively modest amount for a region used to wintry precipitation. Still, the weather was causing problems at airports.
At the Baltimore/Washington International – a major base for Southwest and Spirit – 88 flights had been canceled as of 12:40 p.m. ET, FlightAware counted. That accounted for close to 15% of day’s flights.
Most of the region’s other major airports also were seeing above-average rates of delays and cancellations. At Newark Liberty, about 10% of the day's flights were canceled and another 15% were late.
Other airports where fliers were seeing notable disruptions included New York LaGuardia; New York JFK; Washington Reagan National; Boston; Raleigh/Durham; Columbus, Ohio; and Richmond, Va. Though none of those were gridlocked, some delay and cancellation problems ranged from nuisance to significant disruption.
The ripple effect of the problems in Atlanta and the Northeast were being felt across the nation.
In Florida, for example, about 30 flights had been canceled at Orlando International – mostly fallout from the problems in Atlanta and the Northeast.
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