Cincy weather effect on winter break travel


Nazret Degaulle

Airport travel during the holidays this year was stunted by bad weather that led to flight cancellations and delays. Southwest Airlines canceled nearly 71% of flights in one day, whereas American, United and Delta canceled 14% of their flights. Many were forced to spend the night in airports or miss family gatherings due to long delays and canceled flights.

Lael Ingram, Section Editor of News

The evening of Dec. 22, Cincinnati and other Midwest cities were hit with harsh snow and ice, along with temperature in the negatives. The Cincinnati area received 3.6 inches of snow by midnight and was hit with the lowest temperature of the season at -8 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The holiday season, spanning from Thanksgiving to New Years day, is a prime time for getting out of town to visit family or take an end-of-year vacation. However, it is also known for its unpredictable weather patterns which make it hard to coordinate travel plans during this time of year. 

In the past few years, travel numbers have been significantly smaller due to the COVID-19 pandemic that broke out in 2020. However, according to the Transportation Safety Administration, flight passenger volumes are 93.7% of what they were during the holiday season in 2019. 

While this doesn’t account for travel by car, bus or train, it is a good estimate of the increase in travel during this past holiday. According to AAA Newsroom, a total of 112.7 million people were expected to travel this holiday season.

However, because of the weather this year, getting in and out of Cincinnati proved to be a difficult task for many. According to WLWT, on Dec. 26, Southwest airlines canceled 71% of booked flights while American United and Delta combined canceled around 14%.

Mara Bronson, ‘25, was traveling home from visiting her sister in San Francisco late on Christmas day when her flights back were canceled. “We were just about to leave and head to the airport when my dad was alerted that all of our flights had been canceled because we had a layover in Salt Lake City,” Bronson said. “We ended up having to stay two or three extra days until we could go back [home].”

Bronson was not the only one who experienced flight delays or cancellations. “We were sitting at the gate and they kept moving our flight back by 5-minute increments to the point where we were worried if we were going to actually get out of the airport that night,” Caroline Lovelace, ‘26 said. 

Lovelace was traveling back home from New York City in the midst of the storm. “We got into Cincinnati late at night on the 23rd and it was snowing so hard you couldn’t see a thing…it took us what was usually a 25-minute drive about an hour and 15 minutes to get home.”  

Other modes of transportation were impeded by the weather as well. Many people traveling by car or bus experienced trouble in the forms of icy roads and terrible traffic that added hours onto travel times. 

“I went to Louisville for a Mega Cavern trip… but on the way back, we went a completely different way because the highway was shut down due to severe ice,” Kaiden Jenkins, ‘26 said. “It was really, really icy. When we were trying to get up a hill, a car zoomed in front of us and stopped the momentum. We got stuck on the hill trying to get up.” 

Jenkins and his family were luckily towed by another car who helped them get over the hill within 15 minutes of their struggle. However, even though Louisville is typically an hour and a half away from Cincinnati, it took Jenkins much longer to get back home due to the icy roads. “It did add a lot of time to the trip though, we left at like 11 And we got back at four,” Jenkins said.

Despite the extended travel times and chilly weather, there were some upsides for many during this difficult travel season. 

I got to stay in California for three more days which was fun, [and] I got to go to the movies and a NBA game,” Bronson said.