United States

Over 12,000 Flights Canceled as Powerful Snowstorm Wreaks Havoc on East Coast Transportation

With a possibly historic blizzard pummeling the eastern United States, more than 12,000 flights have been canceled around the country, including 5,184 flights on Saturday. Public transit has shut down in some of the cities bracing for impact, and drivers were being warned to stay off the roads as ice turned normally safe streets deadly.

Snow, ice and strong winds were causing problems for travelers. A plane landing at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport slid off the runway amid slippery conditions Friday afternoon.


Airlines have already canceled almost 600 flights for Monday and more than 3,300 for Sunday. Another 5,184 were canceled on Saturday, while another 3,688 were grounded on Friday, including all flights into and out of Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore and New York, according to FlightAware. Most impacted on Saturday was New York City's JFK airport with 866 cancellations.

On a percentage basis, all the D.C. and New York airports are seeing 70 to nearly 100 percent cancellations. Runways at Washington's Reagan National and Dulles International airports were expected to remain closed through Sunday.

The top 10 airports reporting flight cancellations Saturday include three in New York, three in the Washington, D.C. area, two in North Carolina, and Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago. There were 95 cancellations at Los Angeles International Airport on Saturday, which included flights to the East Coast, according to Flight Aware.

Another 1,056 flights have already been canceled for Sunday, which were expected to rise moderately as the airports re-open. Many of the cancellations on Sunday were regional flights, including between D.C. and New York, and also international flights, including London to New York. According to FlighAware, majority of flights are expected to operate Sunday afternoon and evening.

One of the unlucky travelers stranded by the storm was Jennifer Bremer of Raleigh, North Carolina. Bremer flew into Chicago on Thursday morning, carrying only a briefcase, for what she thought would be less than a day of meetings. Her flight home was canceled Thursday night, and then again Friday.

"I have my computer, my phone and a really good book, but no clothing," Bremer said as she eyed flight boards at O'Hare International Airport on Friday. "I have a travel agent right now trying to get creative. I'm waiting on a phone call from her. ... I'm trying to get somewhere near the East Coast where I can drive in tonight or early tomorrow morning."

All major airlines have issued waivers for travel over the weekend, allowing passengers to rebook onto earlier or later flights to avoid the storms. The airports included vary by airline but include some cities in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia all the way up the coast to New Hampshire and Massachusetts. American Airlines alone has issued waivers for 42 airports.

The only good news for fliers: Saturday is the slowest travel day of the week. There are a little more than 22,000 flights scheduled to, from or within the U.S., according to flight tracking service FlightAware. That's about 5,000 fewer flights — and 400,000 fewer passengers — than on Thursday or Friday.

Check with individual airlines for up-to-date flight and waiver information.


Uber suspended service in the New York City and surrounding New Jersey areas at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a travel ban.

The Metro-North Railroad, a commuter line that carries passengers between New York City and Connecticut and the Long Island Railroad, will be shut down starting at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday. 

New Jersey Transit stopped running trains, buses and light rail at 2 a.m. on Saturday.

The New York City subway system is operating below ground, but above-ground subway routes will be suspended, starting 4 p.m. Saturday. The MTA bus service was suspended at noon. 

Amtrak said it will continue operating on a modified schedule in the mid-Atlantic region Sunday because of the storm. In a statement, Amtrak said it will announce its plans for Monday for the Northeast Corridor on Sunday. 

Some Amtrak trains to and from the East Coast have been canceled or their routes shortened, including trains between New York and Miami, Chicago and New York, Chicago and Washington, Washington and Florida and New York and Georgia.

Amtrak advises passengers to check the schedule to see if their trips have been canceled; refund information is available online or by calling 800-USA-RAIL.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said that as of 9 a.m. Friday, ridership on the region's rail lines was down 50 percent. According to Stessel, riders had taken 37,000 trips this Friday morning, compared with 74,000 last Friday.

Washington, D.C. shut down its Metro from 11 a.m. Friday through Sunday. The Maryland Transit Administration also suspended service throughout the storm.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority — which operates subways, buses and commuter rails in five counties, including Philadelphia — suspended most operations starting early Saturday. SEPTA hopes to restore full service Sunday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us