Chicago Weather

Hundreds of Flights Canceled at O'Hare Airport as Travel Issues Reported for Another Day

Forecasters said the heaviest periods of snow were expected between 2 p.m. and 11 p.m. across the area.

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Hundreds of flights were canceled at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport Sunday, marking another day of frustration for travelers this holiday weekend.

As of 4:22 p.m., O'Hare International Airport reported 567 cancellations while Midway International Airport saw 70 flights canceled.

More than 800 flights were canceled at O'Hare on New Year's Day as a winter storm pummeled the area. While snow continued through portions of the region Sunday, it wasn't immediately clear if the cancellations were the result of weather or staffing issues brought on by the omicron variant.

At Midway, more than 250 cancellations were reported Saturday.

Southwest canceled more than 450 flights nationwide, or 13% of its schedule Saturday. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines scrubbed more than 200 flights each, and United Airlines canceled more than 150.

SkyWest, a regional carrier that operates flights under the names American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express, grounded 480 flights, one-fourth of its schedule. A spokesperson blamed weather in Chicago, Denver and Detroit and COVID-19 illnesses.

Airlines say they are taking steps to reduce cancellations. United is offering to pay pilots triple or more of their usual wages for picking up open flights through most of January. Spirit Airlines reached a deal with the Association of Flight Attendants for double pay for cabin crews through Tuesday, said a union spokeswoman.

When winter weather hit the Pacific Northwest earlier this week, Alaska Airlines urged customers to delay any “non-essential” trips that were planned through this weekend. With full flights over the New Year’s holiday, the airline said it wasn’t sure it could rebook stranded passengers for at least three days.

Airlines hope that extra pay and reduced schedules get them through the holiday crush and into the heart of January, when travel demand usually drops off. The seasonal decline could be sharper than normal this year because most business travelers are still grounded.

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
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