Winter Storm Harper flight cancellations go to Monday

Last update: 2 p.m. ET. Next update: By 6 p.m. ET.

Flight headaches were on the rise Saturday as a potent winter storm moved from the Midwest into the Northeast.

Airline cancellations were mounting, with some flights on Monday already off the books. In total, about 3,300 flights had been canceled from Friday through Monday. That number was likely to grow as the storm moved into the Northeast. All big U.S. airlines were waiving change fees at many airports in the storm’s path.

For Saturday,  nearly 1,800 flights had been canceled nationwide and another 1,661 delayed as of 2 p.m. ET, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.

Even for Sunday, airlines already had pre-emptively canceled more than 925 flights in the anticipation of poor weather. Even Monday flights were affected, with about 50 already canceled. Those totals came on top of 521 mostly-storm-related cancellations on Friday.

The storm, dubbed Winter Storm Harper by The Weather Channel, was dumping snow, ice and rain across the Great Lake and Ohio Valley early Saturday morning. By evening, poor conditions were forecast to expand into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

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The hardest-hit airport on Saturday was Chicago O’Hare, where a combined 830 departures and arrivals had been axed as of 2 p.m. ET. That accounted for more than a third of the entire day’s schedule there, by FlightAware’s count.

Saturday’s flight problems were widespread. Among the dozens of airports where FlightAware showed significant cancellations were New York JFK, New York LaGuardia, Newark Liberty, Chicago Midway, Boston, Indianapolis, Washington Reagan National, Baltimore/Washington, Buffalo and Cleveland.

Looking to Sunday, Boston had the most pre-emptive cancellations, with more than 400 combined departures and arrivals already off the schedule. That accounted for close to half of the Sunday’s entire schedule at Boston, according to FlightAware. New York JFK had about 100 combined arrival and departure cancellations for Sunday.

Many of those came on JetBlue, which counts Boston and JFK as its two busiest hubs. JetBlue had already canceled about 430 for Sunday and another 37 for Monday, FlightAware showed. 

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Numerous other airports were already seeing dozens of cancellations for Sunday, including Newark; Washington Reagan National; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Hartford, Connecticut. Even Florida airports were feeling the effects; dozens of Sunday were already canceled at airports like Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, with the disruptions coming mostly on flights that had been scheduled to operate to airports in the Midwest and Northeast.

Flyers on all airlines should brace for a spike in cancellations and delays at least through Monday. Using previous storms as a yardstick, flight cancellations seem likely to continue to spike into early next week if current forecasts hold.

Flight delays could last even after the storm. Bitter cold is predicted to blast into the Midwest and Northeast in the storm’s wake, bringing the possibility of de-icing delays at busy airports that could last at least through Monday.

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