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What To Do If Winter Storms Disrupt Travel For You

by on January 2, 2014 · 12 comments

in Points Guy Pointers

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With a massive snowstorm moving across the Great Lakes and a newly forming Noreaster about to slam the East Coast – along with 100 million people and 22 states in its path – airlines and dozens of airports are going to be affected by huge blizzards just as folks prepare to travel home after the holidays. Over 1,700 flights have been canceled or delayed so far, and there will be more to come.

I know a lot of you – like me – are currently on the road and about to take to the skies, so I wanted to put together a few tips and a handy consolidated resource of the current travel advisories and flight change and refund policies of the major airlines so that you don’t get stranded this weekend.

The snowstorm is going to snarl air traffic for days.

The snowstorm is going to snarl air traffic for days.

If you do think your travel plans are in jeopardy, first check out this post on Tips for Weather-Related Flight Cancellations where I cover issues like dealing with gate and ticket agents, long airline hold times, and leveraging travel agents and sites like ExpertFlyer to get your travel plans back on track.

The good news is that airlines are allowing customers to reschedule their travel plans and waiving customary change and cancellation fees.

If you have travel coming up anywhere in the affected zone and your plans are flexible, I would try to change them as soon as possible, because the longer you wait, the less chance you’ll have of rebooking anytime soon as the airlines scramble to adjust flight schedules for after the storm and their call centers become overwhelmed, so better to be proactive.

The major airlines have already posted links to their advisories and change policies specific to upcoming travel on their homepages, but here is a consolidated list by airline of affected dates, airports and what fees you can expect to be waived as well as contact information for making changes.

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AMERICAN AIRLINES

American’s travel advisory is posted here. The airline is offering customers the ability to change their flight plans if traveling from affected East Coast airports (see list below) and the ticket reissue charge will be waived for one ticket change on tickets in the same booking class. Here’s the official announcement.

Due to winter weather in the Northeast U.S., American Airlines offers you the convenience to change your plans. You may change flights as shown if your itinerary includes any of the listed airports and you are ticketed to travel on American Airlines.

If you are traveling to, through or from:

  • Boston, MA (BOS)
  • Buffalo, NY (BUF)
  • Harrisburg, PA (MDT)
  • Hartford, CT (BDL)
  • New York Kennedy, NY (JFK)
  • New York LaGuardia, NY (LGA)
  • Newark, NJ (EWR)
  • Philadelphia, PA (PHL)
  • Rochester, NY (ROC)
  • Syracuse, NY (SYR)
  • Westchester County / White Plains, NY (HPN)

On the following dates: January 2 – 3, 2014
And your ticket was issued no later than: December 31, 2013
You may travel: January 1 – 8, 2014
Original inventory required? No

The ticket reissue charge will be waived for one ticket change.

To change travel dates, contact our Reservations personnel at 1-800-433-7300 within the United States or Canada. If you are calling from outside the United States or Canada, please check the Worldwide Reservations Numbers page.

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DELTA

You can find Delta’s most current Travel Advisory information here. As of now, if your flight is canceled or significantly delayed, you are entitled to a refund. Even if your flight is not canceled, you may make a one-time change to your ticket without fee if you are scheduled to travel to, from, or through the following cities on Delta, Delta Connection, or Delta-coded flights during the specified time periods listed below.

Affected Destinations:

Connecticut
Maine
Massachusetts
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Rhode Island
Vermont

Impacted Travel Date: January 2-3, 2014

Ticket must be reissued on or before: January 8, 2014

Rebooked travel must begin no later than: January 8, 2014

When rescheduled travel occurs beyond January 8, 2014, the change fee will be waived. However, a difference in fare may apply. Final travel must be completed by end of ticket validity, one year from date of original issue.

Changes to origins and destinations may result in an increase in fare. Any difference in fare between your original ticket and the new ticket will be collected at the time of booking.

You can now edit your itinerary here at delta.com, or you may contact Reservation Sales to make changes to your itinerary. Additional collection in fares may apply. Check flight status frequently for up-to-the-minute info about your flight plans, or get updates sent directly to your wireless device or email with Delta Messenger.

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JETBLUE

JetBlue has issued policies affecting travel to its Northeast hubs. You can find the most up-to-date information on fee waivers and affected airports here. Here’s the official line from their Travel Advisory, though:

Due to the weather in the Northeast we will waive change/cancel fees and fare differences for customers traveling on Thursday, January 2, 2014 and Friday, January 3, 2014 to/from the following cities:

  • Baltimore, MD (BWI)
  • Boston, MA (BOS)
  • Buffalo, NY (BUF)
  • Hartford Springfield, CT (BDL)
  • New York (JFK)
  • New York (LGA)
  • Newburgh, NY (SWF)
  • Newark, NJ (EWR)
  • Pittsburgh, PA (PIT)
  • Portland, ME (PWM)
  • Providence, RI (PVD)
  • Reagan National Airport (DCA)
  • Rochester, NY (ROC)
  • Syracuse, NY (SYR)
  • Washington Dulles (IAD)
  • Westchester County, NY (HPN)
  • Worcester, MA (ORH)

Customers may rebook their flights for travel through Tuesday, January 7, 2014 prior to the departure of their originally scheduled flight. Customers with cancelled flights may also opt for a refund. Original travel must have been booked on or before Tuesday, December 31, 2013.

To rebook travel or request a refund online, click here. For further assistance call 1-800-JETBLUE (1-800-538-2583). Customers are encouraged to check the status of their flight online prior to leaving for the airport. Customers with web-enabled cell phones and PDAs may check flight status at mobile.jetblue.com.

SOUTHWEST

You can find up-to-date travel advisories here on the current storm. Here’s the official line from the airline:

As winter weather conditions develop, there is a possibility that our scheduled flight service may be disrupted (delayed, diverted, and/or cancelled).  With this in mind, Customers holding reservations for travel on the dates noted to/from/through the Cities listed below are eligible to reschedule their flight in accordance with our accommodation procedures.

  • Akron-Canton (CAK)
  • Albany (ALB)
  • Boston Logan (BOS)
  • Buffalo/Niagara (BUF)
  • Chicago (Midway) (MDW)
  • Cleveland (CLE)
  • Hartford (BDL)
  • Long Island/Islip (ISP)
  • Manchester (MHT)
  • Milwaukee (MKE)
  • New York (LaGuardia) (LGA)
  • Newark (EWR)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Pittsburgh (PIT)
  • Portland (PWM)
  • Providence (PVD)
  • Rochester (ROC)

The affected dates vary slightly, so be sure to check your specific city, but for Midwest cities like Chicago, the advisory is as follows:

Customers holding reservations to/from Chicago Midway (MDW) from 12pm CT Wednesday, January 1, through 4pm CT Thursday, January 2, wanting to alter their travel plans may rebook (within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city-pairs and in accordance with our accommodation procedures) without paying any additional charge.

And for East Coast cities, the advisory is as follows (using Hartford as the example):

Customers holding reservations to/from Hartford (BDL) from Thursday, January 2, through 1pm ET Friday, January 3, wanting to alter their travel plans may rebook (within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city-pairs and in accordance with our accommodation procedures) without paying any additional charge.

Customers who purchased their itinerary via southwest.com are eligible to reschedule their travel plans online. All other ticketed Customers should call our toll-free number 1 (800) 435-9792 for assistance.

Additionally, Customers holding reservations for a flight that is cancelled to/from Hartford (BDL) may request a refund for an unused ticket/travel itinerary.

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UNITED

You can find all this information on United’s Travel Notices page. As the situation progresses, though, you can get all the up-to-date information on weather and operations at the airline’s Operations page. You should be able to make changes online, or by calling 1-800-864-8331.

For now, the following airports are affected:

Airports:

  • Albany, NY (ALB)
  • Allentown, PA (ABE)
  • Binghamton, NY (BGM)
  • Boston, MA (BOS)
  • Buffalo, NY (BUF)
  • Burlington, VT(BTV)
  • Chicago, IL (ORD – O’Hare)
  • Hartford, CT (BDL)
  • Manchester, NH (MHT)
  • New York, NY (JFK)
  • New York, NY (LGA – LaGuardia)
  • New York/Newark, NJ (EWR – Liberty)
  • Philadelphia, PA (PHL)
  • Portland, ME (PWM)
  • Providence, RI (PVD)
  • Rochester, NY (ROC)
  • Syracuse, NY (SYR)
  • White Plains, NY (HPN)

For all, the following dates apply:

Original Travel Dates:
January 2, 2014 – January 5, 2014

Final Travel must be completed by:
End of Validity of ticket (one year from date of issue)​​

Flight Changes:

  • When rescheduled travel commences by January 9, 2014 change fees and fare differences will be waived.
  • For all other dates and ticket uses, the change fee will be waived, but a difference in fare may apply.

Note: The following airports are also affected and have special policies in place.

  • Cleveland, OH (CLE)
  • Detroit, MI (DTW)

Original Travel Dates:
January 1, 2014 – January 3, 2014

Final Travel must be completed by:
End of Validity of ticket (one year from date of issue)​​

Flight Changes:

  • Fees for same-day flight changes are waived within 24 hours of original departure.
  • For all other changes, the change fee will be waived, but a difference in fare may apply.

And also:

  • Baltimore, MD (BWI)
  • Washington, DC (DCA – National)
  • Washington, DC (IAD – Dulles

Original Travel Dates:
January 2, 2014

Final Travel must be completed by:
End of Validity of ticket (one year from date of issue)​​

Flight Changes:

  • Fees for same-day flight changes are waived within 24 hours of original departure.
  • For all other changes, the change fee will be waived, but a difference in fare may apply.

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US AIRWAYS

The airline has posted its current travel advisory and policies here but here are the details:

Cities Affected

Hartford, CT ; New Haven, CT ; Portland, ME ; Boston, MA ; Manchester, NH ; Newark, NJ ; Albany, NY ; Binghamton, NY ; Buffalo, NY ; Islip, NY ; New York, NY (JFK Airport) ; New York, NY (LaGuardia) ; Newburgh, NY ; Rochester, NY ; Syracuse, NY ; White Plains, NY ; Allentown, PA ; Harrisburg, PA ; Philadelphia, PA ; Scranton, PA ; Providence, RI

Date Range:
1/2/2014 1:00 AM ET through 1/3/2014 11:59 PM ET

Revised Ticket Policy

We’ve relaxed our change-fee policies. If your trip is affected, you can change your trip online (in most cases) — we’ll waive your change fees.

Here’s how:

• Book the same origin and destination

• If you are scheduled to travel January 2 or 3, your travel date may be changed to travel January 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8

You may have to pay to change your trip if:

• You change your origin and/or destination

• Your travel is outside the dates listed above

• There is a difference in fare

Please call if:

• Part or all of your trip is on another airline

• You don’t see a ‘Change my trip’ link when you pull up your reservation

Change your trip online at usairways.com/manageyourtrip

If you need help, please call 800-428-4322.

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VIRGIN AMERICA

Affected airports at this time include only Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Newark EWR and New York JFK. Find the latest news and updates on the travel advisories page here, but the official statement is this:

Due to winter storms forecast for the Chicago region between Dec. 31, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 and in the Northeast between Jan. 1 and Jan. 3, guests traveling to or from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) are strongly encouraged to remain up-to-date on their flight status before leaving for the airport by checking here or by signing up for Virgin America Flight Alerts here.

Travel Waiver for ORD:
Guests with confirmed flights bound for or originating from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) on Dec. 31, 2013 or Jan. 1, 2014 may change their travel dates without paying change fees or the difference in fares for travel through Jan. 5, 2014. Guests can change to available flights between Dec. 30, 2013–Jan. 5, 2014 on the same route as the original itinerary and within the same class of service.

Travel Waiver for BOS, EWR, JFK and PHL:
Guests with confirmed flights bound for or originating from BOS, EWR, JFK or PHL on Jan. 2 – 3, 2014 may change their travel dates without paying change fees or the difference in fares for travel through Jan. 9, 2014. Guests can change to available flights between Dec. 31, 2013 and Jan. 9, 2014 to travel to/from any of these four airports and within the same class of service.

Changes must be made prior to the originally scheduled departure time and original travel must have been booked on or before Dec. 31, 2013. Guest may contact our contact center at 877.359.8474* to change or cancel their flights. Guests may also make these changes on the Manage Travel tab at www.virginamerica.com.

So there’s bound to be a lot of chaos in the coming days – I only hope it doesn’t mean huge headaches for too many of you or that your 2014 travel doesn’t get off to too bumpy a start. I hope this helps you all stay up to date, and most importantly, travel safe!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • disqus_HM3f4Ppvm8

    “The good news is that airlines are allowing customers toreschedule their travel plans and waiving customary change and cancellation fees.The bad news is – it might mean missing Thanksgiving with your loved ones.”

    I’m pretty sure Thanksgiving has already passed ;)

  • Kurt

    “The bad news is – it might mean missing Thanksgiving with your loved ones.”

    Copy/paste fail?

  • Pat

    “The good news is that airlines are allowing customers toreschedule their travel plans and waiving customary change and cancellation fees.The bad news is – it might mean missing Thanksgiving with your loved ones.”

    Might want to proofread better when passing off recycled content as new.

  • Richard

    A comprehensive summary of the travel changes associated with the current weather situation (in spite of the not so current holiday situation). Thanks.

  • Mickyb

    His new year resolution should be to proofread his blogs when he cut/paste. Thanksgiving? FAIL

  • thepointsguy

    Thanks for pointing it out – I’m still on vacation in Costa Rica and so is my brain, but I’ve fixed!

  • RJ

    Lighten up, jeez! All the advisory info is current.

  • marg

    Really? I’m amazed how anyone can get so much helpful info. from Brian and just focus on a small typo!!

  • Michael

    Another example of how lazy he’s gotten. Yes, it’s a small typo, we all make mistakes, however it shows that his content is severely lacking compared to other blogs and he just recycles the same material.

    Having said that, I’m sure it’s helpful to those who may have missed the last time there was a storm e.g. http://thepointsguy.com/2013/11/what-you-can-do-if-weather-disrupts-your-thanksgiving-travel-plans/

    or here http://thepointsguy.com/2010/12/tips-for-northeast-storm-stranded-air-travelers/

    or here http://thepointsguy.com/2013/02/what-to-do-if-superstorm-nemo-derails-your-travel-plans/

    you get the point.

    Anyways, rant over…

    I really do feel this information is helpful to some, and ultimately it’s his blog and he can do whatever he wants, but maybe a post within the beginners guide?

  • thepointsguy

    And the next huge storm will have a similar formatted post. No need to reinvent the wheel when I’m simply consolidating airline policy information to travelers who may have their plans messed up by the weather. Sorry you think this is phoning it home, but it was my 4th post of the day and if you don’t get value out of it, then you can always simply skip the post

  • RobertBarron

    Some people have nothing better to do than complain. I don’t see THEM spreading knowledge, and/or helpful information.

  • Marlene

    Zero help today from delta. I was proactive and called to try to reschedule Paris to Detroit connecting in DC last night. They said everything was fine. They then called my hotel this morning at 930 Paris time to ask if I could instead connect through Amsterdam leaving at 10:20! Doubt I could make it from central Paris to CDG in that timeframe. Delta offered NOTHING else, even still, other than staying an additional day. I went to the airport and Air France got me on the direct CDG to DTW. Lesson learned about Delta.

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