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U.S. airlines post highest number of cancellations in 25 years

After another winter storm walloped much of the country this week, U.S. airlines have cancelled the highest number of flights in 25 years.

Roughly 14,000 were cancelled this week, bringing the total number of cancelled flights since Dec. 1 to more than 75,000, according to flight tracking site FlightAware. It's the highest total number and highest percent of cancellations since at least the winter of 1987-1988, when the Department of Transportation first started collecting cancellation data.

A mix of winter weather and cost-cutting measures is to blame.

Beginning Tuesday, the storm moved from Texas all the way up to Maine and dropped snow, sleet and ice on nearly everything in its path. About 1.2 million utility customers lost power as the storm moved from the South through the Northeast, dropping to about 550,000 outages, mostly in South Carolina and Georgia.

At Tampa International Airport, over 70 flights were cancelled by 7 a.m. Thursday. Passengers were stranded at airports or forced to wait in line or travel to other airports to make it to their destination.

"This year is off to a brutal start for airlines and travelers," FlightAware CEO Daniel Baker told the AP. "Not only is each storm causing tens of thousands of cancellations, but there's been a lot of them."

Airports in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington D.C and Charlotte, N.C were particularly hard-hit Thursday, and cancellations in those spots can easily create a chain reaction that knocks out flights to and from even sunny Florida.

Friday morning, TIA's website reported a much brighter outlook for the day, with only about 20 cancelled flights. Most of those were arrivals.

Airlines have been cutting unprofitable flights and packing more passengers into planes. That's been great for their bottom line but has created a nightmare for passengers whose flights are canceled due to a storm. Other planes are too full to easily accommodate the stranded travelers. Many must wait days to secure a seat on another flight.

Another snow storm is predicted to hit the Northeast this weekend. If you're worried about your flight's status, TIA officials recommend checking your flight's status with the airline or on TIA's website at www.tampaairport.com. If you're waiting for an arrival, they recommend waiting in the airport's cell phone lot.

This report includes information from the Associated Press.

U.S. airlines post highest number of cancellations in 25 years 02/14/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 14, 2014 8:36am]
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