Record cold delays some Amazon deliveries, grounds more than 1,500 flights
Brutal cold that can cause frostbite within a few minutes blasted the Midwest for a second day and blew into the Northeast on Thursday, snarling air traffic and delaying Amazon and other package deliveries.
Temperatures at O’Hare at 5:30 a.m. were minus 21 degrees, with wind chills of 37 degrees below zero, the National Weather Service said.
Delta Air Lines, American, United, Spirit Airlines and JetBlue Airways said they would waive date-change fees for travelers affected by the severe weather. Southwest Airlines, which doesn’t have date-change fees, said it wouldn’t charge travelers booked in and out of more than two dozen U.S. airports the fare difference to fly at a later date due to the extreme weather. Southwest canceled 410 flights on Thursday, about 10 percent of its schedule.
While aircraft can take generally take off in low temperatures, the bitter cold limits how long ground workers can remain loading baggage or provide fuel and other essential services for aircraft.
Delta, which operates hubs in Minneapolis and Detroit, prepared for the frigid conditions by increasing staffing of ground workers. Employees can take more frequent breaks indoors, as the airline can prepare for the low temperatures by moving some aircraft into heated hangars overnight, said spokesman Michael Thomas.