More than 7,500 flights in and out of the U.S. were canceled ahead of the storm, and several cities in the Northeast issued travel bans to keep people off the roads. New York’s regional airports received between 6 inches and 11 inches of snow, and Boston was hit with more than two feet of snow. Most major airlines are waiving fees for customers to change flights or get a refund.
“If airlines hadn’t canceled, passengers could’ve been stuck on runways, stuck in terminals,” said Chris Hills, air traffic analyst at Orbitz. “It’s actually more beneficial that airlines did this so passengers could be at home.”
And even though the storm wasn’t as bad as expected, it still wasn’t great. New York’s regional airports received between 6 inches and 11 inches of snow, and Boston was hit with more than two feet of snow.
Most major airlines are waiving fees for customers to change flights or get a refund. When airlines waive fees a day or two in advance, it helps to get customers rescheduled and on their way as quickly as possible.
Although the major air travel impact was on Tuesday, it’s not over yet. United Airlines canceled all flights through Wednesday in Boston and other New England airports. Spokeswoman Mary Ryan said the airline planned limited arrivals at Newark Tuesday night — one of its major hubs — with a more complete schedule on Wednesday.
Delta Air Lines expected to fly a limited number of flights into New York’s LaGuardia and Kennedy airports on Tuesday night, then resume service throughout the Northeast beginning Wednesday morning, according to spokesman Morgan Durrant. He said the airline expected to run about 80% of its usual schedule on Wednesday.
American Airlines resumed limited service to Philadelphia on Tuesday, with full service expected Wednesday morning, said spokeswoman Andrea Huguely. Flights at New York-area airports will resume Wednesday morning, and limited Boston flights will begin around noon with a full schedule by 3 p.m. local time, Huguely said.
“The best things travelers can do is just try and be patient,” said Hills. That means taking the airline up on fee waivers if your schedule is flexible. But if it isn’t, and you are already at the airport and your flight gets canceled, “have your airline’s number programmed into your cellphone,” he said. “Call them and get in line to the desk agent at the same time.”
Also, when traveling during bad weather, Hills suggests having everything you would need for the next 24 hours in your carry-on: “you never know if you’ll be able to get ahold of your checked baggage.”
If you end up in need of a hotel room during a storm, it may not be as expensive as you’d expect. (Bad weather is considered a force majeure, or act of God, meaning airlines are not required to provide for stranded passengers.) Big storms cause disruptions in business travel, according to HotelTonight CEO Sam Shank, and that leaves hotels needing to fill unexpected vacancies. Read more…