Air travelers faced another round of weather disruptions Tuesday from yet another winter storm.
More than 1,150 flights had been canceled nationwide as of 12:05 p.m. ET, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.com. And that was just Tuesday. Nearly another 1,000 had already been canceled for Wednesday.
Most big airlines waived change fees and relaxed rebooking rules for customers ticketed to fly through stormy airports, though the precise details varied by airline.
Already on Tuesday, more than 160 departures and more than 245 arrivals had been canceled at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Those totals represented roughly 15% of the airport's daily schedule, according to FlightAware.com. Rain was falling at the world's busiest airport Tuesday morning, but forecasts called for icy and snowy weather to overtake the area Tuesday evening and persist into Wednesday.
Delta, which operates its busiest hub in Atlanta, had canceled more than 500 flights nationwide, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. That figure included about 315 "mainline" flights and about 200 on the company's Delta Connection regional affiliates.
At Charlotte – a major hub for US Airways – more than 270 combined arrivals and departures had been canceled as of 12:05 p.m. ET. The cancellations represent about 20% of the airport's daily schedule, according to FlightAware.
And, in Dallas – where freezing drizzle was in the forecast – cancellations were a problem at Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW). About 190 departures and 165 arrivals (about 20% of the day's flights) had been canceled at the airport, the biggest hub for American Airlines.
American and its American Eagle regional affiliate had canceled a combined 369 flights as of 12:05 p.m. ET, according to FlightAware.
Cancellations were becoming problems elsewhere in the south, including at Birmingham, Ala., where snow was mixing with rain and fog early Tuesday morning. More frozen precipitation was expected Tuesday evening and into Wednesday morning. About 25 arrival and departure cancellations -- or more than 10% of the day's schedule -- had been reported at Alabama's busiest airport as of 12:05 p.m. ET, according to FlightAware.
Unfortunately for fliers, the scope of the flight disruptions was expected to expand dramatically in the next 48 hours. Problems at busy airports like Atlanta and Charlotte were likely to persist into Wednesday. By Wednesday's end, snow is expected to start in Washington, Philadelphia and New York -- likely snarling flights at a half-dozen of the nation's busiest airports.
Of the 956 preemptive Wednesday cancellations counted by FlightAware as of 12:45 p.m., nearly half came from the Atlanta and Charlotte airports. Raleigh-Durham already had two dozen Wednesday departures canceled while New York LaGuardia, Washington Reagan National, Dallas/Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Columbia (S.C.) and Miami all had more than a dozen departures already scrapped for Wednesday.
If the effects from this week's storm match is similar to ones from earlier this year, it's possible that airlines could end up cancelling between 5,000 and 10,000 flights across the nation before the storm winds down by Friday. That would send flight disruptions rippling to airports across the nation. A flight from Phoenix to Salt Lake City, for example, could become delayed or canceled if the aircraft or crew scheduled to fly it gets bogged down in the snowy south or mid-Atlantic.