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Report: Canceling flights may pay off in end

February 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A new report shows canceling flights ahead of bad weather might pay off in the end.

There were nearly 10,000 cancellations last December when a massive blizzard hit the Northeast. As frustrating as it was for passengers, the report found airlines were actually better able to keep planes moving through the rest of their networks.

As a result, not a single domestic flight was stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours during that blizzard.

Three flights, operated by Delta, United and Pinnacle, were stuck on the tarmac that month, but they were because of the storm.

International flights with lengthy delays weren't counted, including flights operated by Cathay Pacific and British Airways that spent over seven hours on the tarmac at New York's JFK airport.

U.S. airlines face fines of up to $27,000 per passengers for tarmac delays of more than three hours.

Cancellations aren't as costly as one might think. Canceling a flight eliminates fuel and labor costs. Many passengers will fly, just on later flights, so the airline still collects its fare.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.