Long before the first flake fell on Tuesday, airlines had canceled nearly a third of the day’s flights in and out of Logan International Airport. Airlines also scrapped a quarter of Wednesday’s flights, according to FlightView, the flight information company based in Newton.
Airlines have in recent years become more proactive about canceling flights before bad weather hits. Weather forecasts are more accurate, giving airlines more confidence that a projected foot of snow won’t turn out to be a flurry.
Airlines are also running their businesses more efficiently, noted Mike Benjamin, chief executive of FlightView, and canceling flights well in advance prevents them from having planes and crews out of position, which can lead to more delays and cancellations—and costs—once a storm is over.
New rules that effectively limit pilots hours, put in place this month by the Federal Aviation Administration, have also led to more preemptive cancellations. When storms threaten to delay schedules, carriers are cutting flights instead of risking having pilots max out their flying time as they wait to be cleared for takeoff.
JetBlue Airways blamed the rules in part on the difficulties it had during the early January storms, when the carrier shut down departures from four airports, including Logan, for 17 hours.
JetBlue is in favor of the new rules, chief operating officer Rob Maruster said earlier this month, but noted that the more restrictive requirements will lead to more cancellations when bad weather hits.
In general, early cancellations are better for passengers, too, Benjamin said.
“Where would you rather hang when your flight’s been canceled?” he said. “I’d pick home.”
Of course, most people would prefer their flight not to be canceled at all. Steve Tseglin, one of the operations engineers at FlightView, was supposed to leave for Aruba on a JetBlue flight at 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday. Instead, he’ll be working while his wife tries to find a flight out later in the week—but at least he won’t be stuck at the airport.