More than 2,000 flights have been cancelled across the U.S. this week as historically frigid weather is sending much of the country into a deep freeze.
Nearly 2,000 of the cancelled flights were scheduled to arrive or depart from Chicago, where temperatures are below zero degrees Fahrenheit and wind chills are diving as low as 50 to 60 degrees below zero, according to FlightAware’s cancellation tracker. Other flights going in and out of St. Louis, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Denver and Buffalo were also cancelled as of Wednesday morning.
USA Today reports extreme weather and wind chills can negatively affect employees whose work requires them to be outside. The cold can also impact parts of the the plane, like freezing water lines or cargo doors.
Wind chill temperatures are expected to be between 30 to 60 degrees below zero across the northern Plains, Great Lakes and upper Midwest, according to the National Weather Service. Wind chill warnings or advisories have been issued for several states from across the Midwest to parts Pennsylvania.
Airlines cancelled more than 700 flights set to leave Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and 167 that were to depart from Chicago Midway International Airport, along with 725 flights that were set to land at O’Hare and 166 flights at Midway.
Southwest Airlines, which serves many passengers traveling through Midway airport, has cancelled 625 flights as of Wednesday afternoon. United Airlines and American Airlines, which have hubs at O’Hare, cancelled 139 flights and 270 flights, respectively, on Wednesday. Earlier in the week, both airlines cancelled a combined 824 flights that were arriving or departing from O’Hare.
Train travelers are also facing obstacles due to the severe cold. Amtrak announced that all trains going to and from Chicago would be cancelled on Wednesday and Thursday because of “extreme weather conditions and an abundance of caution,” and that customers can change their reservations without additional charges.
People attempting to travel shared their cancellation woes online.
For those whose flight travel is impacted by the extreme weather and flight cancellations, several airlines are waiving ticket change fees.
American Airlines travelers who were scheduled to fly on Tuesday or Wednesday through cities affected by the winter weather can rebook their tickets without charge. The waiver covers several cities in the Northeast, including New York City, Newark, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Cleveland, Boston and Toronto. Delta Airlines is also waiving change fees for people traveling Tuesday and Wednesday through the same region. Rebooked travel must start no later than this Saturday, Feb. 2.
United Airlines will cancel any change fees for people scheduled to travel through Chicago between Jan. 27 and Feb. 1, for new United flights leaving on or before Feb. 4. JetBlue is offering a similar deal to travelers going through a number of cities on Jan. 30, including New York City, Buffalo, Albany and others in the Northeast.