Southwest Airlines cancels flights Thursday ahead of expected storm

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DENVER -- Southwest Airlines has canceled 21 flights through Denver International Airport on one of the busiest travel days ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Airline officials confirmed that flights scheduled for Thursday afternoon and evening have been cancelled because of storms expected to hit the area.

“The monsoon is back,” FOX31 Denver meteorologist Greg Dutra said Thursday. “Rain will fire up around noon and continue off and on through the night.”

“We have proactively canceled about 20 of our afternoon and evening flights to ‘thin out’ our operation in anticipation of diminished visibility and the expected rains,” a Southwest spokesman said.

The cancelations include flights departing to San Francisco; Los Angeles; Phoenix; Nashville, Tenn.; Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and more.

Flights arriving from Las Vegas; Dallas; Phoenixl San Diego; Portland, Ore., and other locations have also been canceled.

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“Customers on those flights have or are being contacted, as we always do when a cancelation occurs, and they are being accommodated on other flights," the Southwest spokesman said. "We’ve implemented a flexible accommodation policy for all of our customers whose travel today involves Denver.  We never charge for change fees so that means that fare differences are waived for people who are moving their travel to another day.”

Southwest has approximately 200 flights scheduled for Thursday.

"The July Fourth holiday week is one of the busiest times of the year at DEN, and this year the airport is projecting record-setting traffic with about 1.2 million passengers from June 28 through July 4 -- about 13 percent more than the same time last year," airport spokesman Heath Montgomery said in a news release.

"Thursday and Friday are expected to be the busiest days during this time period, with more than 180,000 passengers each of those days, compared with DEN’s average daily traffic of 148,000 passengers."

Montgomery said Transportation Security Agency screening checkpoints are expected to be especially busy from 1-4 p.m.