Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) and United Airlines (UAL) are restoring flights amid rising temperatures after winter storms led carriers to cancel more than 11,000 U.S. flights in four days and marooned millions of fliers.
Cancellations for the day totaled 681 at 11:47 a.m. New York time, according to industry data tracker FlightAware.com, a sign that airlines expect better conditions. Yesterday’s tally in the U.S. fell to 2,692, down from 4,110 on Jan. 6, FlightAware reported.
Today is “shaping up to be a much better day weather-wise at our hub airports,” said Morgan Durrant, a spokesman for Atlanta-based Delta.
With only four canceled flights early today, Delta’s rate was running at less than 1 percent, a pace that would be typical of a day without any weather disruptions at the third-largest U.S. airline. Cancellations at American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL) and United, the two biggest U.S. carriers, were 1 percent of today’s schedule, FlightAware reported.
Delta scrubbed 890 flights yesterday, up from 397 on Jan. 6, with all but 40 of those involving regional partner airlines, Durrant said. Cold weather continued affecting regional flights today at Delta’s Detroit hub and cities feeding flights into the city. A number of canceled regional flights wasn’t immediately available, he said.
“We’re operating close to normal schedules today,” said Sharon Jones, a JetBlue spokeswoman. The airline is adding extra flights for a second day, primarily to carry passengers stranded in the Caribbean.
MasFlight, which gathers and analyzes aviation operations data, estimated flight delays and cancellations linked to winter weather from Jan. 1 through Jan. 6 have cost airlines and passengers more than $1.4 billion. More than $968 million of the total was borne by passengers, who had an average delay of 18 hours after their flight was canceled, said Bethesda, Maryland-based masFlight.
An estimated 20,000 canceled flights will cost airlines between $50 million and $100 million, Helane Becker, a Cowen & Co. LLC analyst, said in a report today.
After record-low temperatures in much of the country over the past several days, the National Weather Service predicted the climate to begin moderating today.
Even as passengers start to make their way home, their luggage may lag behind. A video posted to the photo-sharing site Instagram showed scores of bags jamming carousels at Chicago’s Midway International Airport, where 46 percent of flights were delayed or canceled yesterday, according to FlightAware.com.
“There’s definitely quite a backlog,” Brad Hawkins, a spokesman for Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV), the biggest carrier at Midway, said in a telephone interview. “We’re working through that as we are with all the people whose flights have been canceled. It’s definitely still a pain point for us and our employees.”
JetBlue added 25 extra flights yesterday to fetch travelers stranded as far away as South America after its shutdown at New York’s Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, New Jersey’s Newark Liberty and Boston Logan.
About 150,000 customers were affected when JetBlue canceled 1,800 flights from Jan. 2 through yesterday, Chief Operating Officer Rob Maruster said on a conference call yesterday. Some passengers had multiple flights grounded.
Compensation for idled JetBlue passengers may include travel vouchers, extra awards in the carrier’s loyalty program or financial reimbursement, with decisions made on a case-by-case basis, Anders Lindstrom, a spokesman, said. He said JetBlue expects to have all travelers “at their final destination in the next few days.”
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