Flight cancellations piled up as a blizzard moved along the eastern seaboard and into New York City this afternoon and tonight. Kennedy and Newark airports shut shortly after 8 p.m. EST tonight, with plans to reopen early tomorrow.
As expected, airlines canceled large numbers of flights at East Coast airports today, one day after more than 1,000 flights were canceled at Atlanta, merely on the possibility of a snowstorm.
As of 6 p.m. EST, nearly 3,000 arrivals and departures had been canceled at airports in the New York City and Washington areas, and in Philadelphia and Boston.
And airlines have begun preemptively canceling flights for Monday. At the three New York airports alone, nearly 700 departures and arrivals scheduled for tomorrow had already been scrubbed by 9 p.m. tonight.
On flights that remained scheduled today, some delays of well over three hours were being reported at airports.
Meanwhile, severe delays rippled through the air-traffic system far away from the storm, from Miami, where delays continued into the night, and Los Angeles, where things finally eased up early in the evening.
Overall, air travel today was, in short, a huge mess -- and it will be a huge mess (and possibly a worse one) tomorrow.
If you are flying, it is very important to check before leaving for the airport to ensure that your flight is even still on the board, let alone on time. Most affected airlines have put weather-related policies into effect, meaning that, assuming you're not already stuck in the mess, you can opt out -- cancel your plans and choose another travel date, within their guidelines, without paying the dread change-penalty fee.
Hey, it's the least airlines can do, considering that they've been whacking away at their operations, and obviously canceling many flights preemptively, for fear of having airplanes stuck on tarmacs and triggering big federal fines that took effect in April to discourage tarmac strandings.
From FlightStats.com, here as of 6 p.m. EST today are the major cancellations (of course, some will count twice, since a canceled departure at one airport can sometimes also be a canceled arrival at another on this list):
Reagan National -- Canceled: 148 departures, 132 arrivals -- of 759 total arrivals/departures scheduled.
Baltimore-Washington -- 146 departures and 161 arrivals (total 687 flights scheduled)
Dulles --69 departures, 62 arrivals (849 total)
Philadelphia -- 304 departures; 241 arrivals (of 1,265 flights scheduled)
Newark -- 292 departures, 349 arrivals (of 1,002 total)
JFK -- 282 departures, 296 arrivals (of 1,193 total)
La Guardia -- 256 departures, 283 arrivals (of 869 total)
Boston: 148 arrivals, 196 departures (857 total).
Meanwhile, these airports were reporting significant delays Sunday night: Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Minneapolis, Cleveland, St. Louis, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Detroit. Also, excessive delays are being reported at Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa -- obviously as a result of the commotion rippling through the system from delays and cancellations (including those preemptive Atlanta ones) elsewhere.
And Palm Beach is also reporting excessive delays. That airport, by the way, handles a lot of private jets (NetJets accounted for most of the takeoffs and arrivals there today) -- and the swells were evidently trying to make it home before the blizzard.
This is a very big travel mess that won't go away for days.
Courage, as the man used to say.