Cold Weather Cripples Air Travel

The chaos in the nation’s air travel system worsened on Monday as a wave of frigid weather forced airlines to cancel thousands more flights, stranding passengers from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Los Angeles.

Compounding the issue, at least for one airline, were new regulations requiring more rest time for pilots that began at the beginning of the year.

JetBlue Airways said the combination of bad weather and the new Federal Aviation Administration rules led it to cancel all of its flights into and out of Boston and the three New York area airports for 17 hours starting Monday afternoon.

The regulations made airlines build more leeway into their already tight pilot scheduling. Once the delays hit, some pilots who formerly would have been available to fly were not allowed to.

“In the midst of us repairing those schedules disrupted by this week’s winter storms, we’re facing an additional challenge as new F.A.A. rules went into effect for crew rest,” JetBlue said in a statement.

The biggest impact on the airlines was in the Northeast and the Midwest, where polar weather swooped in. Airlines canceled 4,400 flights on Monday, bringing the total to more than 18,000 since last Thursday, according to, a flight information website.

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