Severe thunderstorms around Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Wednesday caused 100 American Airlines flights and led to hundreds of cancellations extending into Thursday’s schedule.
More than 300 American Airlines flights, or 9% of the schedule, had been canceled Thursday afternoon, according to flight tracking site FlightAware. By noon ET, a total of about 650 U.S. flights had been canceled.
American canceled nearly 370 flights on Wednesday. In total, more than 1,200 U.S. flights were canceled on Wednesday, FlightAware data shows.
DFW Airport is American Airlines’ largest hub.
Southwest Airlines, headquartered in Dallas, recorded about 250 cancellations on Wednesday, according to FlightAware. Southwest had canceled about 100 flights on Thursday as of noon ET.
Overwhelmed by second-line storms
According to US Chief Operating Officer David Seymour, the airline was preparing for thunderstorms in the forecast south of the airport on Wednesday afternoon. But another wave came by surprise.
“Those storms then recovered, creating an entirely new and unexpected series of storms north of the airport. This unexpected storm activity prevented all arrivals into DFW over a three-hour period,” Seymour said in a memo to staff shared with CNN Travel.
One hundred AA flights were diverted and the airline proactively canceled all remaining flights to and from DFW on Wednesday.
“DFW airport had gone by 67 days without seeing measurable rain, the second longest streak on record – weather like this can wreak havoc on our operation. This was the worst storm we’ve seen at DFW this summer, and to to make matters worse, there was no indication it was on its way,” Seymour said.
He thanked American Airlines staff for their efforts to recover from the weather disruption, noting that cancellations “have a huge impact on our customers.”
“Flight cancellations are a last resort,” Seymour said in the memo to staff. “But doing this in advance, even with a small window, gives customers the best chance of adjusting their plans and avoiding last-minute problems at the airport.”
DFW Airport said Thursday it has resumed normal operations.
A summer of flying headaches
The severe weather of the summer has exacerbated other operational challenges, including staffing levels at airlines and airports.
Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg has been working to address air traffic disruptions as demand shattered by the pandemic has returned.
The past weekend was plagued by delays and cancellations, with Friday the worst day for cancellations since mid-June.
The Department of Transportation last week proposed a rule that would extend protections for travelers seeking refunds, and the secretary invited the public to: weigh in on the line and to file complaints when airlines don’t respond.
The proposed rule would more clearly define cases where flights are significantly changed or canceled to provide a clearer path to refunds and create more pandemic-related consumer protections.
Top image: American Airlines planes line up at passenger gates at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in October 2020. (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images)