ORLANDO, Fla. – The travel plans of millions of Americans hang in the balance as a major winter storm sweeps eastern U.S. states before Christmas.
Friday — set to be the busiest pre-Christmas travel day at Orlando International Airport with more than 160,000 passengers forecast to pass through — began with more cancellations announced overnight than were seen Thursday, when about 80 flights had been called off.
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Already Friday, roughly the same number of cancellations as Thursday and even more are expected to keep many arrivals and departures in the red at OIA. More than 300,000 people hope to fly in or out of the airport throughout the weekend.
Passengers described delay-induced wait times as long as four hours or more, with one man telling News 6 he was unable to get compensation for a flight because weather was to blame.
Jeremy Moore, who is flying home to Birmingham, is hoping the airport will be OK so he can get back.
“Kind of concerned,” Moore said. “A little bit of concern. Like I said, worst-case scenario, we’ll rent a car and drive. It’s only eight hours from here. What’s eight hours?”
Wendy Davis said her flight home to Seattle was already delayed five hours, but she’s still hopeful she’ll get home.
“I’d say keep a cheery disposition,” she advised. “There’s nothing we can do about it. It’s all out of our control.”
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More than 200 million people — about 60% of the U.S. population — were under some form of winter weather advisory or warning on Friday, the National Weather Service said. The weather service’s map “depicts one of the greatest extents of winter weather warnings and advisories ever,” forecasters said in a statement Friday.
Facing dozens more cancellations than the day prior, already about 100 at the time of this writing, airport officials continue to warn travelers to arrive at least three hours early to deal not only with the crowds, ticketing and security, but also with parking.
Check the status of flights at Orlando International Airport by clicking here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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