Flight cancellations leave thousands of passengers stranded as airlines recover from blizzard

Along with Denver International Airport, Chicago O’Hare, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and LaGuardia Airport also saw major travel issues on Monday. Southwest Airlines had a majority of the cancellations, with 87% of its total flights canceled on Monday alone.

Thousands of passengers were stranded at airports Monday as airlines worked to recover from delays and cancellations from the Christmas blizzard.

Just before Christmas, a significant winter storm brought blizzard conditions to several states across the U.S. and snarled holiday travel.


More than 3,800 flights were canceled Monday, according to FlightAware.com.

Southwest Airlines owned a majority of those, with over 2,800 flights canceled.

"As the storm continued to sweep across the country, it continued to impact many of our larger stations and so the cancellations just compiled one after another — to 100 (flights), to 150, to 1,000," said Jay McVay with Southwest Airlines. "With those cancellations, you end up with flight crews and airplanes that are out place and not in the cities that they need to be in to continue to run our operations — that is ultimately exactly how we ended up where we are. It’s trying to get our flight crews back into cities where they need to be to operate our flight schedules and then reaccommodate everyone that we can."

As of 8 p.m. ET Monday, 87% of Southwest's Monday flights had been canceled. That number dropped to 64% Tuesday morning, with nearly 2,500 flights canceled, according to FlightAware.com.


Southwest said their flight schedules would continue to suffer significant impacts through the week.

"We anticipate additional changes with an already reduced level of flights as we approach the coming New Year holiday travel period," a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said. "Additionally, with consecutive days of extreme winter weather across our network behind us, continuing challenges are impacting our Customers and Employees in a significant way that is unacceptable."

Some of the biggest problems were in Denver, where passengers waited hours to be rebooked. This comes just days after Southwest said they were operating under a "State of Operational Emergency" on Christmas Eve, according to FOX 31 in Denver.

Chicago O’Hare, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and LaGuardia Airport also saw major travel issues on Monday.


As of Monday evening, nearly 6,000 flights were also delayed.

What happens if my flight gets canceled?

If your flight gets canceled, most airlines will rebook you on the next available flight to your destination – as long as seats are available.

If your flight is canceled, and you choose to forgo the planned trip, you're entitled to a refund for any unused portion of your flight – even if the flight is non-refundable, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.


In addition, you're also entitled to get your money back for any bag fees or extras, such as a seat assignment.