White Christmas Might Ground Flights in Pacific Northwest and Dakotas

Dec 23, 2016

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Delays or cancellations thanks to winter weather are always a danger when flying during the holiday season, and if you’re traveling in the next few days through the Pacific Northwest or Dakotas, you might not want to dream of a White Christmas as it could ruin your holiday travel plans.

The next big winter storm is developing and might start affecting flights as early as tonight. The Pacific Northwest will see the greatest impact before the storm pushes through to the northern Rockies tomorrow. Then on Sunday, the storm is forecast to drop over a foot of snow in parts of North Dakota, northern and western South Dakota, and possibly far northwest Minnesota.

While there haven’t been any flight cancellations in the region yet, the winter weather threatens to disrupt air travel on these critical holiday travel dates. The four largest US airlines have already set up travel alerts to allow travelers with flexible schedules to rebook themselves out a few days — or perhaps even leave as early as tonight.

If you get stranded at the airport, keep in mind that airlines aren’t responsible for paying for your meals or hotels for cancellations or delays due to weather. However, you might be covered by your credit card. The top credit cards that offer solid flight delay/cancellation insurance are the Citi Prestige ($500 per passenger for 3+ hour delay), the Chase Sapphire Reserve($500 per ticket for 6+ hour or overnight delay) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred ($500 per ticket for 12+ hour or overnight delay).

As of this writing, here are the current travel waivers:

American Airlines

  • Travel dates: December 24-25
  • 14 airports across Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming
  • Must have bought your ticket by December 22, 2016. Rebook travel anytime before December 27. You can’t change your origin or destination city. Must rebook in same class or pay the difference.

Delta Air Lines

  • Travel date: December 25
  • 8 airports in North Dakota and South Dakota
  • Ticket must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin by December 27, 2016.

Southwest Airlines

  • Travel dates: December 24-25
  • Airports: Boise (BOI); Portland, OR (PDX); Salt Lake City (SLC); Seattle (SEA); Spokane (GEG)
  • Customers who are holding reservations on Saturday or Sunday, December 24 or 25, and want to alter their travel plans may rebook in the original class of service or travel standby (within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city-pairs and in accordance with our our accommodation procedures) without paying any additional charge.

United Airlines

  • Travel date: December 25
  • 8 airports in North Dakota and South Dakota
  • The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new flights departing on or before December 27, 2016, as long as travel is rescheduled in the same cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.

No travel alerts have been issued yet by Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airlines or Spirit Airlines.

Featured image courtesy of Saul Loeb of Getty Images.

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