Flight cancellations pile up as winter storm, 737 Max 9 grounding disrupt travel

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An Embraer E175LR passengers aircraft of American Eagles airlines (C) taxxing before take-off to Pittsburg is seen at La Guardia Airport on January 9, 2024.
Charly Triballeau | Afp | Getty Images

Airlines canceled about 2,000 U.S. flights Friday as they grapple with winter weather and the grounding of Boeing 737 Max 9 planes. 

Storms in the Midwest helped drive more than 4,500 delays, with major disruptions around Chicago and Detroit, major hubs for the largest U.S. carriers, according to flight-tracker FlightAware.

About 40% of flights at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, a hub for United Airlines and American Airlines, were canceled after a snowstorm led to an over two-hour ground stop. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, a hub for Delta Air Lines, had about 20% of flights Friday either delayed or canceled due to the storms.

Southwest Airlines, which has a big operation out of Chicago Midway, canceled more than 400 flights, while more than 900 were delayed.

United canceled about 10% of its mainline flights and delayed about 20%.

Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded Boeing 737 Max 9s after a door plug blew off an Alaska Airlines flight, so the jets can undergo inspections. That grounding has continued to disrupt travel for both United and Alaska Airlines, the only two U.S. airlines that operate the aircraft.

Alaska Airlines said Friday it would cancel all flights on the Max 9 through Sunday as it waits for documentation from Boeing and the FAA to begin inspections.

About 20% of the carrier’s flights were canceled Friday and more than 10% were delayed, FlightAware data showed. Alaska said that between 110 and 150 flights per day would be impacted by the grounding of the Max 9. 

“We regret the significant disruption that has been caused for our guests by cancellations due to these aircraft being out of service,” the company said.

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