The winter storm that swept across most of the continental United States earlier this week has disrupted transportation across the country, from canceling Amtrak services to closing portions of the Interstate Highway System. Air travel seemed to be the most affected by the icy weather. Over Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, more than eleven thousand flights were canceled across the entire country.
Texas was particularly hit hard by the storm, and the state’s airports suffered significantly. When cancellations peaked on Thursday, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport canceled 57% of its flights. Austin–Bergstrom International Airport called off 76% of its slate of flights. Dallas Love Field dropped 85% of its schedule.
Cancellations and delays start a cascading effect that creates even more cancellations and delays, especially as major airlines had many of their hubs in the line of the massive storm. Flight crews can’t reach other airports to operate later. Not to mention the passengers who got stranded due to connecting flights getting canceled.
Dallas Love Field is a major hub for Southwest Airlines and the location of its headquarters. Southwest canceled every flight scheduled to arrive or depart out of Love Field. In total, Southwest had to call off 1,000 flights, or 28% of its Thursday schedule.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Southwest Airlines spokesman Dan Landson said, “There [are] a variety of challenges we are working through, including getting crews and planes back on their schedules, getting customers to their destinations, and we are still dealing with winter conditions in other parts of the country.”
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Airlines continued to cancel flights into the weekends in an effort to reduce the amount of staff needed to fulfill operational demands as carriers moved crew to resume normally scheduled service. Though, the number of cancellations is only a fraction of the number scrapped before and during the storm.