Winter storm threat leads US airlines to cancel thousands of flights

Over 1,600 cancelations are already planned for Thursday

Thousands of flights have been proactively canceled over the next two days as U.S. carriers prepare for another winter storm that could threaten operations and leave passengers stranded.

The storm, bringing heavy snow and disruptive ice, is expected to travel nearly 3,000 miles from Texas and the Plains to the Midwest and Northeast through Friday. 

As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, 1,437 flights leaving, entering or traveling within the United States have been canceled, according to flight-tracking website, FlightAware.  

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Meanwhile, over 1,600 flights have already been canceled for Thursday, according to FightAware. 

Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and Envoy Air, which is American's regional carrier, are leading U.S.-based airlines in cancelations. 

As of 10 a.m. ET Wednesday, about 12% of Southwest's flight schedule – or 400 flights – have been canceled for Wednesday, according to FlightAware's data. The carrier also nixed about 518 flights for Thursday, according to the website. 

Passengers walk through Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City, Oct. 27, 2020.  (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File / AP Newsroom)

A Southwest Airlines spokesperson told FOX Business that it "proactively suspended operations" in St. Louis on Wednesday and in Dallas on Thursday.  

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Additionally, the carrier said it's "operating limited, or reduced, schedules in some cities along the storm’s path."

The airline is encouraging travelers to check their flight status and the latest travel advisories, including flexible travel accommodations, ahead of their trip.  

Meanwhile, American Airlines told FOX Business that this week’s winter storm, which has already brought snow and freezing rain to parts of the U.S., "is expected to have a significant impact on our operation, especially in the Northeast and Central regions of the United States."

WHAT MAKES THIS WEEK'S WINTER STORM DIFFERENT FROM LAST WEEKEND'S NOR'EASTER?

The airline said that the "vast majority of impacted flights" were canceled in advance in order to notify customers "and avoid last-minute disruptions at the airport." 

As of 10 a.m. ET Wednesday, American Airlines canceled 162 flights and another 196 are canceled on Thursday. Its regional carrier, Envoy, slashed 110 flights Wednesday and another 257 on Thursday, according to FlightAware. 

The carrier already issued a travel notice to help affected customers rebook their flights for free.

The notice covers airports in Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin, as well as parts of Canada.