Blizzard warning: Airlines cancel 2,000 flights, waive fees
LATEST UPDATE (Thursday, March 14): Air travelers faced another day of weather-related flight disruptions on Thursday thanks to a powerful "bomb cyclone" moving through the Rockies, Great Plains and upper Midwest. Full story: Blizzard! Airlines have canceled 3,300 flights since Wednesday
PREVIOUS VERSION: Airlines have canceled nearly 2,000 flights Wednesday as a late-season winter storm is set to bring blizzard conditions to parts of the Rockies and upper Midwest.
In the storm’s crosshairs is Denver, which is a major hub or base for three big carriers: Southwest, United and Frontier.
Nationwide, about 1,940 flights had been canceled and another 2,700 delayed as of 4:40 pa.m. ET, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.com.
Blizzard conditions and up to a foot of snow were possible by Thursday for Denver and other parts of Colorado.
All big airlines were waiving change fees, both for Denver and for numerous other cities in the path of the storm – dubbed “Ulmer” by The Weather Channel.
At thebusy Denver International Airport, more than 1,360 combined arrivals and departures had been canceled as of 4:40 p.m. ET. That represented nearly 80 percent o the day’s flights there, FlightAware calculated.
The airport tweeted around 3:30 p.m. ET (1:30 p.m. local time) on Wednesday afternoon that all runways had been closed because of heavy snowfall.
United operates one of its busiest hubs in Denver, which also is the busiest hub for Denver-based Frontier. For Southwest, Denver is the fourth-busiest airport in its entire network.
Weather disruptions were likely to spread Wednesday from Colorado and the Rockies east into Minnesota, Nebraska and the Dakotas. Some airlines' weather waivers included airports in Illinois and Wisconsin, where rainy and stormy weather was forecast for airports in Chicago and Milwaukee.
TODAY IN THE SKY: Airlines waive fees as blizzard threatens Denver, Great Plains
Aside from Denver, however, most of Wednesday’s disruptions from the storm were likely to affect mostly smaller airports.
In Colorado Springs, Colorado, nearly 40 percent of the day’s flights had been canceled, according to FlightAware.
Other airports included in multiple airline weather waivers included places like Bismarck, North Dakota; Duluth, Minnesota; Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Colorado; Rapid City, South Dakota; and Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
Flyers should also keep their eyes on other potential trouble spots Wednesday.
The same system that’s bringing wintry weather to the Rockies and upper Midwest also could create long lines of thunderstorms across Texas, creating the possibility of sporadic storm delays at airports in Dallas and Houston.
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