Thunderstorms over Florida delayed or canceled thousands during the weekend. Airlines played it cautiously by canceling 3,470 flights despite the heavy Spring Break traffic. In addition, the storm warnings delayed more than 9,000 flights.
Thunderstorms Affected Thousands of Flights
According to FlightAware, the thunderstorms over Florida delayed thousands of flights
6,000 domestic flights and canceled 1,930 more on Saturday. During the next day, an additional 1,540 flights got cancellation notices.
More than 3,000 flights also received delays. By Monday, the disruptions appeared to decrease as flights slowly normalized.
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Airlines are particularly cautious about thunderstorms due to the difficulty in predicting and planning for them.
Unlike other weather disturbances like winter storms and hurricanes, airlines cannot foresee thunderstorms and couldn’t cancel flights days in advance.
In addition, thunderstorm delays tend to build up as airlines are left scrambling to reassign flights and crew.
Southwest Airlines Hit Hardest By Disruptions
Among the major airlines, Southwest Airlines bore the brunt of the disruptions. The airline canceled 520 flights and delayed 1.512 flights last Saturday.
This represented 14% and 43% of its schedule for that day. On Sunday Southwest scratched off 400 flights (10%) and delayed another 900 flights (25%).
Consequently, the airline’s crew reported difficulty in getting accommodations in Florida as they waited out the storm. Florida is a popular Spring Break destination, with hotels getting fully booked at the time.
With thousands of flights delayed, Southwest and other airlines had to search for available hotel rooms for their stranded crew.
Other Airlines Also Canceled, Delayed Thousands of Flights
In addition to Southwest, the thunderstorms also disrupted operations of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, and Alaska Airlines.
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American Airlines reported that the disruptions affected around 65,000 passengers on Saturday alone. A third of cancellations were due to a lack of available flight crews.
Meanwhile, Delta reported delays in 966 of its flights over the weekend. The airline also canceled 279 flights as well.
Also, Spirit Airlines shut down a third of its flights and delayed another 20%. JetBlue Airways also experienced delays in 31% of their schedule as well as cancellations on another 33%.
Meanwhile, air traffic controllers in the state had to scramble to pause or slow down inbound traffic at several Florida airports.
This affected major terminals such as Orlando International Airport, Miami International Airport, and Tampa International Airport. In fact, storm warnings canceled close to 33% of Orlando’s departures as well as delayed 42% of flights.
US Airlines Increased Their Flights
Many of the major airlines in the US are increasing their schedules by thousands of flights. They hoped to make up for the previous two years of the pandemic.
However, many airline workers’ unions are now complaining of full-packed and stressful schedules.
This becomes more stressful when crews discover a lack of hotel rooms and have difficulty reaching their company’s scheduling services.
Watch the WPLG Local 10 news video reporting that poor weather is causing major issues for travelers trying to leave South Florida:
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