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Atlanta flight cancellations top 2,000

Some 2,200 Atlanta flights have been canceled as heavy winter storm conditions loom, and the world’s busiest airport now expects only about 300 flights to operate Wednesday.

With the majority of flights canceled for Wednesday, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport spokesman Reese McCranie said it’s particularly important that travelers check with their airline before heading to the airport.

No one at the airport can recall a time when there was such a huge cancellation of flights, McCranie said.

“I think the airlines are being supremely cautious,” he said. The airport still plans to keep runways and aircraft gate areas clear, concessions open and deicing pads available. A few hundred airport staff were staying in the terminal Tuesday night, preparing to bed down on cots and inflatable mattresses.

Delta Air Lines has canceled 573 flights Tuesday due to the winter storm to hit its Atlanta hub, and is canceling more than 1,500 flights for Wednesday.

Southwest Airlines said it is suspending most, if not all, operations in Atlanta tomorrow. That means nearly all Southwest and AirTran Airways flights going to and from Hartsfield-Jackson will be canceled for Wednesday. Southwest and AirTran combined operate more than 160 daily departures from Atlanta and a similar number of arrivals.

The Delta flight cancellations for Tuesday include 233 Delta Connection flights and 340 mainline Delta flights, the vast majority of them coming to or from Atlanta, according to spokesman Morgan Durrant.

Wednesday’s cancellations include 414 Delta Connection flights and 1,170 mainline Delta flights.

Travelers whose flights are canceled are getting notifications if their contact information is in their reservation, according to Atlanta-based Delta. Affected customers are given an option to rebook.

Customers have reported difficulty getting through to Delta’s customer service line and waits up to hours long on hold.

Delta advised travelers to check for flight status updates. Passengers have the option of a refund if their flight is canceled or “significantly delayed.”

For those whose flights haven’t been canceled, Delta is waiving certain change fees for travelers scheduled to fly Feb. 11-13 to, from or through Atlanta, Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Huntsville, Norfolk, and Raleigh. Those travelers can change their travel plans to avoid the storm.

The only flights Southwest and AirTran are considering operating tomorrow include some of the final flight arrivals into Atlanta in the evening, but that will depend on conditions.

McCranie said Monday the airport will remain “open and fully operational this week” and is stocked with de-icing supplies.

The Atlanta airport has 100,000 gallons of de-icing fluid, 50,000 pounds of de-icing pellets and 50,000 pounds of a salt/sand mixture to handle storm conditions, McCranie said in a written statement. Hartsfield-Jackson have essential personnel working 12-hour shifts starting late Monday night.

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