Record number of flights canceled this winter

NEW YORK — It’s official: This winter was the worst for fliers in the 20 years that the government has been collecting data.

During the first three months of this year, U.S. airlines canceled 4.6 percent of their flights, the Department of Transportation announced Tuesday. The worst winter before this was 2001, when 4.4 percent of flights were scrapped.

Mother Nature is mostly to blame, with a relentless wave of snow and ice storms paralyzing airline traffic.

But airlines are also quicker to cancel flights these days, sometimes a day in advance of a storm. The shift in strategy came in response to new government regulations, improvements to overall operations and because canceling quickly reduces expenses.

In May 2010, a new DOT rule took effect prohibiting airlines from keeping passengers on the tarmac for three hours or more. So, airlines now choose to cancel blocks of flights to avoid potential fines of up to $27,500 per passenger or $4.1 million for a typical plane holding 150 fliers.

Making things worse for travelers, airlines have been cutting unprofitable flights and packing more passengers into planes. When flights get canceled there isn’t anywhere to put the stranded passengers; some end up waiting days to secure a seat on another flight.

In March, JetBlue had the highest cancellation rate among the bigger airlines: 2 percent of flights. That was closely followed by the merged American Airlines and US Airways, canceling 1.9 percent. Southwest Airlines and United Airlines both canceled 1.1 percent and Delta Air Lines 0.2 percent.

Some of the highest flight cancellation numbers came from smaller regional airlines that are operated by other companies on behalf of the major airlines. ExpressJet, which flies regional planes for American, Delta and United, scrapped 5.1 percent of its March flights. American Eagle canceled 4.1 percent of its flights and SkyWest — another subcontractor — nixed 2.3 percent of its scheduled flights.

More in Herald Business Journal

Happy accident leads Edmonds couple to make Hunniwater drink

The latest line of energy drinks by Karin and Eric… Continue reading

Single payer is no panacea for our costly health care system

We must address the cost of health care before designing an insurance system.

Voters are on the sidelines as the port fills a vacant seat

Troy McClelland resigned from the Port of Everett commission too late for an election before 2019.

Career Fair planned next week at Tulalip Resort Casino

The Snohomish County Career Fair is planned from 10 a.m. to 2… Continue reading

American Farmland Trust president to speak in Mount Vernon

American Farmland Trust President John Piotti plans to give a talk about… Continue reading

Not home? Walmart wants to walk in and stock your fridge

The retailer is trying out the service with tech-savvy shoppers who have internet-connected locks.

Trade panel: Cheap imports hurt US solar industry

The ruling raises the possibility of tariffs that could double the price of solar panels.

Agent joins Re/Max in Smokey Point

Dennis Roland joined the Re/Max Elite Smokey Point office. The Navy veteran… Continue reading

In space capsules today, little room but big improvement

Boeing and SpaceX are relying on a tried-and-true design as they each develop new spacecraft.

Most Read