Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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The price tag for this winter’s flight delays

March 23, 2015

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A snowplow clears snow at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (Photo courtesy of BWI Airport)

If you traveled to the East Coast this winter, you probably got stuck somewhere. And now, the numbers on the winter of 2014-15 are in.

U.S. airlines cancelled 63,000 flights due to weather, according to aviation data firm masFlight. Those cancellations affected 4.5 million passengers, costing them $2.2 billion in unplanned out-of-pocket costs. These included overnight hotel accommodations, meals, alternative travel arrangements and lost work productivity.

Believe it or not, the figures weren’t as bad as in previous years.

The financial impact of winter storms on the airlines was $185 million, but that was below the average of $194 million per year lost by airlines over the past six years, according to masFlight.

And, 63,000 flights doesn’t come close to the highest number of winter cancellations during that six year period. In 2013-14, airlines canceled 104,000 flights. masFlight data revealed that the mildest season was 2011-12, with only 24,000 flight cancellations, or about one-third of average winter flight cancellations over the past six years.

Looking at the numbers by the month, December and January actually had fewer flights canceled this season than has been the average for the past six years. But February’s 31,560 canceled flights were well above the average of 26,756, since 2009.

For story ideas, check with the airlines and local airports, and look into the numbers behind this winter’s bad weather. Also check with masFlight, which can offer data by airports and airlines. Another source is the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, although its numbers run a month or two behind.

 STORY IDEAS

masFlight

Airlines for America

Airports Council International-North America

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