As blizzard nears Northeast, airlines cancel flights, waive fees

February 7, 2013
A glimpse of Reagan National Airport during a recent weather event: Hurricane Sandy. (Matt McClain / The Washington Post)

blizzard is heading to New England this weekend and with the massive snowfall looming, airlines are offering waivers to ease rebooking and canceling scores of flights.

Forecasts are calling for 18 to 24 inches of snow in Boston on Friday night and Saturday. The Capital Weather Gang notes that this blizzard could be one of the 10 biggest ever recorded at Logan Airport.

A piece of this storm is pounding the Chicago area, creating delays of at least 90 minutes at O’Hare International Airport on Thursday afternoon. More than 130 flights in or out of O’Hare on Thursday were canceled, according to FlightAware.

This storm will have a major impact on air travel in the Northeast over the weekend. If you have any plans to travel — particularly from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to New England — think about changing your plans now.

FlightAware reports that 266 flights to Newark Liberty International Airport and 67 flights to Logan Airport scheduled for Friday have already been canceled.

Airlines have begun to offer waivers to travelers traveling through the area expected to see the strongest impact on Friday and Saturday.

Delta told travelers heading to or from cities stretching from Philadelphia to Bangor, Maine, as well as people heading to or from Montreal or Ottawa, that they could re-book travel without the usual fee.

The airline said in a statement that it “encourages customers to consider moving up, postponing or re-routing their travel to avoid possible inconvenience from expected flight delays.”

JetBlue and United Airlines issued similar waivers, eliminating the fees for canceling or changing flights as well as the fare differences for flights to or from affected cities.

Southwest Airlines posted a list of cities where travelers could reschedule flights without an extra charge, while US Airways and American Airlines joined in with similar lists and offers.

Officials at the three airports around Washington urged travelers to check in with their airlines to keep up with the latest information about cancellations or delays.

“Travelers with plans tomorrow and into the weekend for flights to New England and the Northeast should be aware of the storm and check with their airlines,” said Jonathan Dean, a spokesman for Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Mark Berman · February 7, 2013