Air travel wasn't entirely smooth on this busy day before Thanksgiving, but it was far from a nightmare.
Nationwide, nearly 475 flights had been canceled as of 3:30 p.m. ET, according to flight-tracking service FlightStats.Nearly a quarter of those came from tiny carrier Cape Air, which fliessmall turboprop planes to many small destinations in New England. It hadcanceled 132 flights by mid-afternoon.
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Thebigger problem for fliers today appears was delays, with more than3,600 delayed flights nationwide as of 1 p.m. ET. Those totals havesharply spiked throughout the day, a rise since the 300 that werereported as of 8 a.m. ET -- or even over the 2,700 being reported at 1p.m. ET. Compared to noon Tuesday, delays are up more than 35% overyesterday, FlightStat says.
The cancellation and delay numbers aresignificant numbers - especially the delay tally - but they also don'tindicate the complete meltdown along the East Coast that some had fearedas a coastal storm moves across the region's busiest airports.
Asexpected, the Philadelphia and New York City airports were sufferingthe worst disruptions so far Wednesday. FlightStats counted more than 60combined departure and arrival cancellations at Newark Liberty and NewYork LaGuardia as of 3:30 p.m. ET.
Delays averaging about 30 to 60 minutes were being reported on flights arriving to Newark, LaGuardia and JFK airports, according to the Federal Aviation Administration's delay map. "Wind" was the culprit at all three.
Reducedvisibility was the big problem at Philadelphia, where average arrivaldelays of about 90 minutes actually represented an improvement fromearlier in the day. FlightStats counted 64 cancellations at Philadelphiaas of 1 p.m. ET. The highest total, however, came in Boston. More than75 flights had been canceled as of 3:30 p.m. ET in Boston, where CapeAir has a significant presence.
Atlanta tallied the highest numberof delayed flights (307 departure delays as of 3:30 p.m. ET), followedby Philadelphia (192), Charlotte (164) and Chicago O'Hare (121),according to FlightStats.
Wednesday's flight report card comes after Tuesday saw few cancellations, but thousands of delays. Only about 280 flights were canceled Tuesday, according to FlightStats. That's a relatively small number, especially considering a large storm was moving across the nation.
Butdelays soared past 6,600, with more than 15% of that total coming fromAtlanta alone. The world's busiest airport suffered 690 departure delaysand 433 arrival delays, according to FlightStats.
However,just getting to the airport was the biggest challenge in some cities.In Charlotte, where the temporary loss of parking spaces contributed to atraffic crunch, hour-long lines snaked down the entrance to theairport.
"I've never seen anything like it," WCNC TV reporter Dianne Gallagher said in a reportfrom 11 p.m. Tuesday evening. Behind her, a long line of cars was stillqueuing to get to the terminal -- even at that hour of the night.
Atone point, Gallagher says it took 59 minutes to drive a single mile onthe airport's entrance road her crew headed to the terminal to filmtheir report. The station's videoshows some passengers jumping out of cars, running with their bags intow through the rain and toward the terminal in an attempt to catchtheir flights.
Back to Wednesday, there are fewmajor weather problems at western airports -- but fliers should remainwary nonetheless. Major disruptions in the Northeast can -- and often do-- ripple out to other parts of the nation. A flight from New Orleansto Los Angeles, for example, could become delayed or canceled if theaircraft or crew scheduled to operate it gets bogged down in the stormymid-Atlantic.