Thousands of flights have been grounded as the US prepares for a winter storm expected to hit much of the country.
More than 7,855 flights in, out and across the U.S. have been delayed since midnight, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware. Nearly 3,457 were canceled, the records show.
On Friday, more than 10,415 flights were delayed and 5,732 were canceled.
On Thursday, more than 10,028 flights in, out and across the US were delayed and nearly 2,539 were canceled.
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On Wednesday, FlightAware reported more than 8,100 delayed flights.
About 54 million passengers are expected to depart US airports over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. Thursday and Friday are forecast to be the busiest travel days of the holiday season, with 3.34 million passengers scheduled to fly each day, according to travel app Hopper.
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Forecasters have predicted that severe weather, consisting of heavy snow, ice, flooding and strong winds, is expected to hit various parts of the US from the Plains and Midwest to the East Coast, starting on Thursday. It is expected to last until Saturday with a surge of Arctic air to follow.
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Southwest, American, United and Delta Air Lines have already issued travel waivers for various parts of the country in case a passenger’s flight is disrupted. This means that the change fee and any change in fare for some flights affected by bad weather is waived by the airline.
FlightAware spokeswoman Kathleen Bangs said the 2021 travel season has the highest number of cancellations, over 5%, in the past decade. This was “partly due to bad weather, including a major storm in the Pacific Northwest – but mainly due to the large absence of airline and airport workers from the widespread omicron variant of COVID-19,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.