Midwest snowstorm grounds hundreds of post-Thanksgiving flights

Scott Olson | Getty Images News | Getty Images

American Airlines aircraft at the gates in O’Hare International Airport, Chicago.

More than 1,000 flights were canceled as a snowstorm hit the U.S. Midwest on Sunday, snarling post-Thanksgiving travel on one of the busiest days of the year.

The National Weather Service urged motorists to stay off the roads for non-emergency travel throughout Sunday night and early Monday and warned that the snowstorm will bring wind gusts as high as 50 miles per hour along with poor visibility.

Airlines at Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport called off 914 flights on Sunday, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware.com. More than a hundred others were canceled in and out of Kansas City, while another 500 flights were delayed.

O’Hare is a hub for both United Airlines and American Airlines. American Airlines waived date-change fees for travelers booked to and from 20 cities in the Midwest if they can travel through Nov. 29. Spirit Airlines also waived fees for date changes through Nov. 29 for tickets in and out of Chicago and Kansas City, due to the storm.

Southwest Airlines said travelers wouldn’t have to pay the fare difference to change their tickets in and out of Chicago’s Midway, Des Moines, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Omaha and Wichita. The airline normally doesn’t charge travelers a flat fee to change their travel dates.

A few travel problems may continue into the start of the workweek. American said it canceled 85 flights scheduled for Monday, while FlightAware.com showed about 200 flights were canceled in and out of Chicago’s airports and Kansas City.

Airlines in recent years have encouraged travelers to rebook flights ahead of a storm to avoid having travelers stranded at the airport. They will also cancel large numbers of flights ahead of a major storm to avoid having crews and aircraft out of position or stuck when the bad weather passes.