Holiday air travel this year is worse than in years past

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While the “once in a generation” winter storm is passing, the flight cancellations and delays are going strong. More than 3,00o U.S. flights were canceled Tuesday among all carriers, with Southwest Airlines accounting for more than 2,600 of the total.

The winter holiday travel season is known to be difficult, but travelers this year are finding more cancellations than usual. Last Friday, over 70 percent of the Lower 48 saw temperatures below freezing, adding even more disruptions to an already busy travel day.

The airline with the most cancellations

With Southwest canceling more than 2,600 flights on Tuesday alone, the airline is expected to have cancelled over 11,000 flights since Thursday. The carrier’s disruptions attracted scrutiny from the Transportation Department, which said it was looking into Southwest’s handling of the cancellations.

The airport with the most cancellations

More travelers saw more cancellations at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport than at any other major nationwide airport. Runways closed at the Seattle airport for several hours early Friday while crews worked to de-ice surfaces, and resumed with limited operations. Nearly 50 percent of the flights to and from the airport were canceled on Friday as western Washington state remained under a storm warning.

When will the winter storm end and travel improve?

FlightAware projects that cancellations will decline as the week progresses and temperatures rise. Hopefully, as the Lower 48 thaws into the new year, the spike of cancellations and delays will also melt away.