Data from the website FlightAware shows more than 4,731 flights were canceled globally on Saturday — by far the largest day of cancellations since the meltdown began Christmas Eve. At least 2,739 of the cancellations were within, into or out of the US.
Sunday cancellations in the US already number 1,699 flights, FlightAware showed. Sunday is generally the busiest travel day of the week, and this Sunday is likely a heavy travel day as the Christmas holiday and New Year week wrap up. The Transportation Security Administration said Thursday it expected to screen 10 million people from Friday through Monday.
Including Sunday, airlines have canceled more than 14,000 flights in the last 10 days, including Christmas Eve, per a CNN tally of FlightAware data.
The problem is likely to continue into next week because it takes time for airlines to recover from the weather issues alone. More than 310 US flights are already canceled for Monday.
The cancellations were across the board for US carriers. The big four on Saturday: Southwest canceled 13%, Delta 10%, American and United 8%.
About a quarter of flights departing Chicago O’Hare Sunday are canceled, after 44% of flights out of O’Hare were canceled Saturday and 54% of flights were canceled from Midway.
Allegiant canceled 27% of its schedule Saturday, or 64 flights. Spokeswoman Hilarie Grey acknowledged weather and Covid-19 staffing issues in a message to CNN:
“As you’ve noted, we continue to have an unusual number of cancellations this week — some have been due to severe weather, and some due to other factors — including the type of unanticipated staff impacts from COVID experienced by other airlines and partners in places where we fly.
“The ongoing impact of these factors is not something we can predict, but we do anticipate additional delays and cancellations this week, unfortunately. Of course when an unanticipated disruption to travel occurs, customer care notifies the affected passengers directly and relays options to be re-accommodated to another flight, receive a refund, credit or other compensation.”
A perfect storm
Now a new challenge is adding to travelers’ woes: a large storm is sweeping across the Rockies and Midwest, bringing ice and heavy snow. Nearly a quarter of flights at Kansas City International Airport were canceled Saturday. In Detroit, airlines canceled one in five flights.
CNN Business’ Chris Isidore contributed to this story.
Holiday flight cancellations soar with Covid-19 disruptions and bad weather