Signage outside Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is caked in snow after a blizzard struck overnight on November 27, 2019 in Bloomington, Minnesota. Snowfalls neared 12 inches in parts of the state on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
Stephen Maturen | Getty Images News | Getty Images
A big winter storm caused major disruptions for travelers returning from the Thanksgiving holiday at airports across the U.S. Sunday.
More than 600 flights into, out of and within the U.S. were cancelled and another 3,400 were delayed, according to the website FlightAware.
A trans-continental storm system reached the Great Lakes region Sunday after sweeping across the country from the western U.S. to the northern Plains, according to the National Weather Service. The Upper Midwest faced blizzard conditions, with the region from the eastern Dakotas to northern Michigan facing potential snowfall of 6 to 12 inches.
Air travelers were met with hours-long delays at some northeastern airports as the storm approached, packing high winds, snow, ice and rain. The storm is expected to last until at least Monday evening, according to federal forecasters.
Upstate New York up through Maine braced for 8 to 16 inches of snow, while coastal New England could get close to a foot of snow. The southeastern U.S. was hit by thunderstorms.
The disruptions coincide with what trade group Airlines for America expects to be the busiest day of the year for the airline industry, with 3.1 million passengers. Airlines are expected to carry a record 31.6 million travelers during the 12 days around Thanksgiving, a nearly 4% increase from last year.
American Airlines waived date change-fees for travelers booked to fly on Dec. 1 or Dec. 2 to or from more than 30 airports in the Northeast, including LaGuardia, Kennedy, Newark, Philadelphia and Boston, if travelers can fly as late as Dec. 5. Travelers can also cancel their trips without paying a fee. Delta, JetBlue and United issued similar waivers for travelers.
As of Sunday evening, close to 480 flights — about a third Newark’s schedule were delayed and 114 were cancelled, according to flight-tracking site Flightaware.com. Delays into the New Jersey airport, LaGuardia, Kennedy and Philadelphia were more than an hour, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
Weather issues extended to the West Coast, where a storm and high winds delayed flights at San Francisco International more than four hours. Nearly 160 flights were canceled in and out of the airport and more than a quarter of the airport’s Sunday schedule, or 380 flights were delayed, according to Flightaware.com data.