Winter Flight Cancelations Were A Record

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — This winter was the worst for fliers in the 20 years that the government has been collecting data, the Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.

During the first three months of this year, U.S. airlines canceled 4.6 percent of their flights.

Airlines are quicker to cancel flights these days, sometimes a day in advance of a storm. The shift in strategy came in response to new government regulations, improvements to overall operations and because canceling quickly reduces expenses.

In May 2010, a new DOT rule took effect prohibiting airlines from keeping passengers on the tarmac for three hours or more. So, airlines now choose to cancel blocks of flights to avoid potential fines of up to $27,500 per passenger, or $4.1 million for a typical plane holding 150 fliers.

In February, American Airlines and US Airways canceled more than 14,000 flights — more than double the rate from a year earlier.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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