- Snow and icy weather conditions often cause flight delays and cancellations around the holidays.
- Icy train tracks have caused train derailments and delays.
- Last year, a computer error left 15,000 American Airlines flights in mid-December without pilots.
Statistically speaking, travelling during the holidays may not be as bad as you think. But catastrophe has been known to strike.
Here are six worst-case scenarios that travellers have faced around the holidays.
Winter weather caused flight cancellations and dangerous road conditions in the Northeast in 2014.
Heavy rain and snow in the Northeast caused flight cancellations on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 2014. Over 10% of flights at Philadelphia, Newark Liberty, and LaGuardia airports were canceled, according to CBS News. The weather also affected driving conditions, with multiple traffic accidents reported along Interstate 95.
The world’s busiest airport lost power eight days before Christmas in 2017.
Due to a fire in a Georgia Power underground electrical facility, 1,180 flights in and out of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta were canceled on December 18, 2017, when the airport lost power, CNN reported.
Planes were stuck on the tarmac for seven hours. Inside the dark airport, people used their phone flashlights.
The Federal Aviation Administration declared a ground stop, bringing all Atlanta-bound flights to a halt. About 30,000 people were affected by the outage.
A computer error left 15,000 American Airlines flights between December 17th and 31st without pilots.
Pilots usually have to work during the holidays, but a 2017 computer glitch allowed them to opt out of flights from December 17th to the 31st. The error left 15,000 American Airlines flights without pilots during one of the busiest travel times of the year.
To avoid mass cancellations and refunds, the airline agreed to pay pilots double their normal rate for taking one of the previously unmanned flights.
Three cars of an Amtrak train derailed near Savannah, Georgia, resulting in an eight-hour delay. There were no injuries.
The last three cars of an Amtrak train derailed near Savannah, Georgia, on January 4, 2018. No one was injured, but the incident caused an over eight-hour delay, according to WTOC.
Snowy weather caused over 1,900 flight cancellations, mostly in the Midwest, on December 28, 2015.
Over 1,900 flights were cancelled in the US on December 28, 2015, due to snowy and icy conditions. About 1,000 of those flights were in Chicago airports, and 400 were in Texas, ABC News reported. Flights that did leave were delayed around four hours.
An Amtrak train carrying 140 passengers encountered engine problems and a frozen track switch the day after New Year’s in 2018, delaying the train for 13 hours.
Engine problems caused a two-and-a-half hour delay before the train left, then a frozen track switch caused another hour-long delay. Then passengers had to wait six hours for a replacement crew. Altogether, the trip was delayed 13 hours. WNEM reported that the train crew provided passengers with fast food in an effort to placate them.