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Winter storms disrupt Logan-to-London flights

Delays likely to linger in busy travel week

Passengers lined up at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3 yesterday, as severe weather caused flight delays and cancellations. Passengers lined up at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3 yesterday, as severe weather caused flight delays and cancellations. (Peter Macdiarmid/ Getty Images)
By Katie Johnston Chase
Globe Staff / December 21, 2010

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The severe winter storms blanketing parts of Europe with snow and ice are having a ripple effect on local holiday travel this week as airlines cancel flights between London and Logan International Airport.

All but a few of the 12 daily Logan and Heathrow Airport arrivals and departures were canceled Saturday and Sunday, and more were scrapped yesterday and today as severe weather conditions continue to hobble Europe’s busiest airport.

American Airlines canceled its four daily flights between Boston and London yesterday and anticipated having just one flight in and out today; British Airways dropped one of its three daily departures yesterday, and expects to cancel one today. Virgin Atlantic was operating about half its flights out of Heathrow yesterday, with delays.

Even those travelers who did get out of Boston over the weekend found it to be rough going. A British Airways flight that took off Saturday morning was diverted to Newcastle, England, and passengers had to be bused nearly 300 miles into London.

Delays and cancellations at Heathrow will endure at least through tomorrow, and more heavy snow is expected to fall in London later in the week. “It’s sort of day by day,’’ said John Lampl, spokesman for British Airways.

Flights out of Logan have not been disrupted by weather in other major European cities, including Paris, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam, said a spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates the airport.

Logan officials also said they aren’t anticipating any disruptions related to the controversial full body scanners and enhanced pat-downs that the Transportation Security Administration put into place this year. An informally organized national “opt-out’’ protest the day before Thanksgiving — in which travelers were urged to ask for a more time-consuming pat-down instead of a scan to draw attention to the more invasive security measures — did not produce any major delays in Boston or elsewhere.

The busiest Christmas week travel days at Logan are anticipated to be today and Thursday, with more than 100,000 passengers expected to pass through the airport on each of those days. Planes are full, officials said, but the crush won’t be quite as severe as it was during Thanksgiving week. That is, of course, if the weather in Massachusetts cooperates — current extended forecasts call for the possibility of snow late Christmas night and Sunday.

With high traffic volume and snowstorms increasing the possibility of delays over the Christmas holiday, Jeanenne Tornatore of the travel website Orbitz recommends that people enter airline customer service numbers into their cellphones. That way, if they have to be rebooked, passengers can begin the process right away instead of waiting in line. “It can make the difference in actually getting a seat on a later flight or getting stuck there overnight,’’ Tornatore said.

Airfare to the most popular destinations out of Boston is up about 6 percent this season over last year, according to Orbitz — similar to price increases in other major US markets. But there are still some deals to be found. For instance, airfare from Boston to Washington, D.C., has dropped by about $80 — JetBlue Airways is offering tickets later this week for $49 each way — due in part to increased competition on the route sparked by JetBlue’s new service to Reagan National Airport.

Katie Johnston Chase can be reached at johnstonchase@globe.com.