Hundreds of Chicago Flights Cancelled: Rundown of Waivers

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Over 2,200 flights were cancelled on Friday and over 600 were cancelled on Saturday as airlines are struggling to resume normal operations after a fire was set in the basement communications room of the Aurora, IL ATC facility early Friday morning.  The FAA is still evaluating the damage, and reports say the repairs could take anywhere from 1 to 6 weeks to complete the repairs, replacement and full restoration of service.

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The airspace in and around Chicago is operating at reduced capacity and airlines are compensating by delaying and cancelling flights.  Here is how some airlines are handling their schedule:

American/US Airways: “Due to situation in Chicago, American Airlines offers the following flexibility options to our ticketed customers whose travel may be impacted by this event. Customers ticketed to travel on AA*/US flights to/from/through the airports listed below may change flights as shown below. (click here for the specific list of cities)

On the following dates: September 26 – 28, 2014
And your ticket was issued no later than: September 26, 2014
You may travel: September 26, 2014 – September 30, 2014
Original inventory required? No
Origin/Destination/Stopover Changes allowed? Yes. Permitted within 300 miles

The ticket reissue charge will be waived for one ticket change.

Delta: “An air traffic control outage in Chicago Center may impact travel to/from/through various cities. Check flight status frequently for up-to-the-minute info about your flight plans, or get updates sent directly to your wireless device or email with Delta Messenger.
Rescheduling Flights: You may make a one-time change to your ticket without fee if you are scheduled to travel to, from, or through the impacted cities on Delta, Delta Connection®, or Delta-coded flights during the specified time periods listed below: September 26-27

Southwest/AirTran Airways: “Customers holding a reservation for travel to/from Chicago (MDW) or Milwaukee (MKE) for Friday, September 26 thru Wednesday, October 1 may reschedule or cancel their flights in accordance with our accommodation procedures.”

United: “Air traffic control disruptions in Chicago, and high call volumes. The evacuation of an FAA air traffic control facility has resulted in significant flight cancellations and delays at airports in Chicago and parts of the Midwest. We are offering options for changing travel plans in some cases. Due to high call volumes, offers the fastest service options. Learn more >” Original Travel Dates:
September 26-29, 2014

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Bottom Line:

If you are traveling to, from, or even thru Chicago in the next week, be sure to check with your carrier for delays.  Even if your travels don’t take you specifically thru the midwest, delays are possible as airlines are still forced to fly lower and around the affected ATC area.  So just beware, and be patient.

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  1. It is amazing that a single fire could result in the disruption of travel through three major airports affecting three states extending for weeks. This should provoke a robust discussion of the need for sharply increased redundancy in our air traffic control system.

  2. I flew SNA to DFW to MIA yesterday and it was a nightmare. It really does suck that such a little thing basically brings our entire grid to its knees.

  3. @Bob
    true but an air traffic control center is expense. I’m sure some people will cry government waste if they build extra centers that’s rarely used.

  4. People are very clever. I’m sure some smart group of people can figure out a way to insert a higher level of redundancy in the air traffic control system without costing too much. One redundant system could back up two or three centers. The redundant center doesn’t even have to be fully manned, which is the big expense. It would be there just in case, and could be used for alternative purposes, such as training.

    Sometimes a little waste is a good thing. Isn’t that what insurance is all about?

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