Flight Disruptions Continue As Winter Weather Wreaks Havoc

Total U.S. flight cancellations and delays ease but remain high as bad weather disrupts travel.

A passenger plane landing on a snowy highway at winter evening time.
(Image credit: Getty)

A word of warning: Continue to check your flight status before you leave for the airport this week. While the total number of delays and cancellations in the U.S. have eased today (January 18), they remain high as severe winter weather keeps hammering parts of the U.S.

According to data from flight tracking software and website FlightAware, 1,594 flights within, into or out of the U.S. were delayed as of midday and 1,353 were cancelled.    

Adding to travel disruptions, the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) grounding of Boeing's 737-9 Max planes remains in place following the January 5 Alaska Airlines incident in which a Max 9 door detached while in flight. The government's Boeing investigation is ongoing and affects the Max 9 fleets of Alaska and United airlines.

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As of midday, United and Alaska posted the most flight cancellations, with 188 and 142, respectively. 

In a video update on the matter, posted January 16, Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci apologized to customers.

“Since Alaska Airlines and the FAA have grounded these aircraft, that means we are canceling between 110- 150 flights every day," he said. "We will return these aircraft to service only when all findings have been fully resolved and meet the stringent standards of Boeing, the FAA and Alaska Airlines.”  

Minicucci said that the reservations team is working “around the clock” to accommodate customers but that there is no specific date for when the planes will be back up and running. “At this time, we do not yet know how long this process will take, but we will keep you updated as much as we can,” he said.

Steps you can take

There are several steps you can take if you're wondering how to get a refund for your flight if a winter storm and cancellations are ruining your travel plans, including checking your airline's website for travel advisories. While you can, of course, call the airline, it will likely take awhile to reach a customer service agent. In the meantime, you can arm yourself with information from the site. 

 Alaska Airlines has a flexible travel cancellation policy in place while the flights are grounded. On its website, United offered options for passengers whose flights are impacted by both weather and the plane groundings, adding that Max 9 passengers are eligible for a full refund, and for inclement-weather cancellations, the airline has “gotten rid of most change fees.”

Southwest said that customers scheduled on flights that have been canceled may request a refund for an unused ticket/travel itinerary on its website. Those with reservations on January 12 or 13 may rebook their tickets “in the original class of service or travel standby (within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city-pairs and in accordance with our accommodation procedures) without paying additional charges,” according to the airline's site.

As Kiplinger previously reported, you can also visit the Department of Transportation Airline Customer Service Dashboard to compare refund and reimbursement policies of the 10 biggest U.S. airlines.


Jamie Feldman

Jamie Feldman is a journalist, essayist and content creator. After building a byline as a lifestyle editor for HuffPost, her articles and editorials have since appeared in Cosmopolitan, Betches, Nylon, Bustle, Parade, and Well+Good. Her journey out of credit card debt, which she chronicles on TikTok, has amassed a loyal social media following. Her story has been featured in Fortune, Business Insider and on The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, CBS News, and NPR. She is currently producing a podcast on the same topic and living in Brooklyn, New York. 

With contributions from