FedEx, UPS warn of delays, airways are canceling extra flights

An American Eagle aircraft taxis during a snowstorm at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in Seattle, Washington, U.S., Tuesday, December 20, 2022.

David Ryder | Bloomberg | Getty Images

FedEx and United Parcel Service warned packages could arrive late this week as a massive winter storm brought high winds, bitter cold and snow to much of the United States ahead of the Christmas weekend.

Severe weather has already affected air travel during what is expected to be the busiest travel season since before the pandemic.

“FedEx Express experienced significant disruption at our Memphis and Indianapolis hubs last night due to severe winter weather moving across the United States,” FedEx said Friday. It said packages due for delivery on Friday and Saturday, Christmas Eve, could be delayed across the country.

UPS said severe weather “in multiple regions of the United States is impacting the UPS Air and Ground network, including UPS hubs in Louisville, Kentucky and Rockford, Illinois. As a result, some delivery and collection services in these areas will be impacted.”

The warnings come during one of the busiest times for parcel delivery, ahead of Christmas Day on Sunday.

The massive winter storm made the journey home a challenge for thousands of travelers. Airlines canceled more than 6,000 flights and delayed more than 20,000 from Wednesday to Friday, according to flight tracker FlightAware. The period includes some of the busiest days of the holiday season expected by airlines. Snow and sleet in the Pacific Northwest also disrupted flights.

Federal forecasters warned of treacherous road conditions, dangerously low temperatures and strong winds in cities from Chicago to Boston. The National Weather Service had parts of Florida, including Tampa and Orlando, under a freezing warning Saturday morning.

On Thursday alone, 10% of US airlines’ scheduled flights were canceled, while nearly half arrived late, arriving by an average of about 70 minutes, FlightAware data showed.

Almost 4,000 US flights were canceled on Friday.

Airlines are keen to cancel flights as early as possible so that bad weather doesn’t leave travellers, crews and planes stranded at the airport.

American, delta, United, southwest, JetBlue, Alaska, Spirit and other airlines have waived change fees and fare differences for more than 50 airports when travelers can fly later.

A look at how the FAA and airlines deal with inclement weather

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