Canceled! Airlines Scrap Record Number of Flights

By Scott Mayerowitz

NEW YORK -- The relentless snow and ice storms this winter have led to the highest number of flight cancellations in more than 25 years, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

U.S. airlines have canceled more than 75,000 domestic flights since Dec. 1, including more than 14,000 this week. That's 5.5% of the 1.37 million flights scheduled during that period, according to calculations based on information provided by flight tracking site FlightAware.

It's the highest total number and highest percent of cancellations since at least the winter of 1987-88, when the Department of Transportation first started collecting cancellation data.

The nation's air traffic system was still recovering Friday from the latest bout of bad weather. Flights were taking off again, but thousands of passengers weren't.

"This year is off to a brutal start for airlines and travelers," says FlightAware CEO Daniel Baker. "Not only is each storm causing tens of thousands of cancellations, but there's been a lot of them."

And February still has two weeks left.

Mother Nature isn't entirely to blame. A mix of cost-cutting measures and new government regulations has made airlines more likely to cancel flights and leave fliers scrambling to get to their destination.

There were days this week where more than 70% of flights were canceled in Baltimore; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; and Charlotte, N.C. Even typically warm -- or at least warmer -- weather cities were not immune. The world's busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, was paralyzed Wednesday by ice and snow.

Bradley Voight, 25, was one of those passengers trapped in Atlanta after his Spirit Airlines  (SAVE) flight to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Wednesday was canceled. After a night sleeping in the airport, he eventually got home late Thursday.

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