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Storms cancel 20,000 flights so far in 2015, cost airlines $65 million

Storms cancel 20,000 flights so far in 2015, cost airlines $65 million
Flight status board on Jan. 26 shows some American Airlines flights out of Los Angeles International Airport canceled due to storms on the East Coast. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A series of storms that have walloped the northeastern United States has caused the cancellation of more than 20,000 airline flights so far this year at a cost of $65 million to U.S. carriers, a new report says.

The three storms that have dumped mountains of snow on New England and the rest of the Northeast since Jan. 25 have delayed or canceled the flights of 1.6 million travelers, at a cost of $779 million, according to MasFlight, a company that collects and analyzes airline information from 100,000 flights worldwide.

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The estimated cost to travelers is based on forecasts of out-of-pocket expenses, such as hotels, meals and taxis, as well as lost productivity and missed meetings, among other expenses.

As bad as that sounds, MasFlight data show that last year's winter was even worse.

In January 2014, 52,000 flights were canceled because of bad weather. For the entire year 126,000 flights were canceled, affecting 9 million passengers, according to MasFlight.

Still, the effect on air travelers has grown in recent years because the airline industry has increasingly canceled flights before foul weather moves in to save on the cost of paying crews and equipment to sit idle in storm-locked airports.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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