Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winter Storm Bound for Midwest Will Cause More Flight Cancellations

Right now, I'm looking at (and listening to) a windstorm blowing through the sunny desert of southern Arizona, a phenomenon that I have come to recognize as weather on a great big hurry to get somewhere else.

So git, I say.

But sorry, Midwest, here it comes, over the mountains and up the prairies, where it appears likely to develop into a nasty winter storm tomorrow just in time for one of the biggest Christmas air-travel days.

It may be just freezing rain and ice tomorrow, but there will be wind. And wind is a great disrupter of takeoff and landings.

Alas, one of the potential results is that a larger-than-normal number of flights could be preemptively canceled by airlines worried about the draconian new DOT rules on tarmac delays. The Air Transport Association has said that one of the unintended consequences of that action, which was taken to address problems the airlines and the FAA failed to address adequately, will be more flight cancellations.

So we'll see. If O'Hare or other Midwest airports are in your travel plans tomorrow or Thursday, remember that this week began with more than 3,000 flight cancellations during the East Coast blizzard. The air-travel system, which has no slack built in even in normal times, still hasn't fully digested that lump of displaced passengers and dislocated aircraft and crews. It is not yet fully functional from that disruption.

So plan for delays but most importantly, be prepared for a flight cancellation.


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