This post has been updated to include new information about airline travel and fee waivers.
The biggest storm of the season– maybe the decade– is coming. What’s a traveler to do?
Remember, we’ve seen this before (see: snowmageddon). We will make it through.
If the storm is as massive as forecasters are predicting, the experts say the best thing to do is stay home. If you don’t have to be on the roads, don’t. This is for your safety as well as for the safety of the folks who are out clearing the roads so that when we all do emerge from our toasty living rooms, we can get to our destinations with a minimum of fuss. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, 70 percent of snow-related deaths occur in automobiles.
But if you absolutely have to get somewhere, AAA Mid-Atlantic offers the following tips:
- Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage. It could cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Make certain your tires are properly inflated.
- Never mix radial tires with other tire types.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
- If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
- Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.
Click here for more tip, including how to control your vehicle if you begin to skid.
Can we tell you whether your flight to Palm Beach will leave as scheduled on Saturday? No we can’t, but we can offer these tips for figuring out how best to get where you’re going.
Check with your airline before you leave the house. By mid-day Wednesday, several airlines including American, JetBlue, United and Southwest, had issued travel waivers allow passengers to re-book their flights. But depending on the severity of the storm, the cities affected could shift. Like you, airlines also are trying to assess the impact of the predicted storm.
Most airlines have lighter flight schedules on Saturdays, so the impact of this storm might not be as severe as it would be if it were to hit during the busy work week. Reagan National for example, handles roughly 850 flights on an average Friday versus, 550 on an average Saturday. But we know that’s of little consolation if you’ve got a ticket out of town this weekend.
For travelers who have reservations on American Airlines or American Eagle flights between Jan. 21 and Jan. 24 to, from, or through the cities listed below — you can change your reservations without penalty, have the ticket-reissue charge waived for one ticket change and begin travel as early as Jan. 20 or as late as Jan. 27 under this travel waiver.
Below is a list of included airports:
Bradley International Airport (BDL)
Tweed New Haven Airport (HVN)
Blue Grass Airport (LEX)
Baltimore–Washington International Airport (BWI)
Salisbury–Ocean City–Wicomico Regional Airport (SBY)
Logan International Airport (BOS)
Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT)
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
Albany International Airport (ALB)
Elmira/Corning Regional Airport (ELM)
Greater Binghamton Airport (BGM)
Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport (ITH)
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP)
Stewart International Airport (SWF)
Westchester County Airport (HPN)
Asheville Regional Airport (AVL)
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
Greenville–Spartanburg International Airport (GSP)
Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO)
Raleigh–Durham International Airport (RDU)
Harrisburg International Airport (MDT)
Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE)
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
University Park Airport (SCE)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (AVP)
Williamsport Regional Airport (IPT)
T. F. Green Airport (PVD)
McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS)
Tri-Cities Regional Airport (TRI)
Charlottesville–Albemarle Airport (CHO)
Lynchburg Regional Airport (LYH)
Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (PHF)
Norfolk International Airport (ORF)
Richmond International Airport (RIC)
Roanoke–Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA)
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)
Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
Tri-State Airport (HTS)
Yeager Airport (CRW)
Travelers can change their travel plans on aa.com, but they also can contact American Airlines reservations at +1-800-433-7300 in the U.S. or Canada.
Southwest Airlines spokesman Brian Parrish said that customers who are holding reservations traveling Friday and Saturday, to or from BWI, Boston, Long Island/Islip, Newark, LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Providence, Dulles and National airports can reschedule their flights.
If you are traveling internationally, you must call 1-800-435-9792 to speak with customer representative for help with rebooking. Also, if you did not buy your ticket via southwest.com or via the airline’s mobile app, you can call 1-800-435-9792 to speak with a representative.
So far, the airline has not canceled any flights.
“We will continue to monitor the storm and make operational adjustments if necessary,” the spokesman said.
United’s waiver is for travel between Friday and Sunday and includes more than two dozen cities, including all three airports in the Washington region.
JetBlue has issued change fee waivers for customers traveling between Jan. 22 and Jan. 23 to and from six airports: BWI, Charlotte, North Carolina; Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, Va., Washington Dulles and Reagan National in areas expected to be affected by Winter Storm Jonas. Customers with travel plans should visit jetblue.com for the latest travel alerts and change fee waiver policies. Travelers who are affected may rebook their flights for travel through Friday, January 29, 2016 prior to the departure time of their original flight. Those whose flights are cancelled may opt for a refund.
Note: While airports may halt flights or divert them to other airports in order to clear runways, they most often remain open, even during severe weather. Officials at Dulles and National last closed their runways in February 2014, after Winter Storm Pax dumped more than a foot of heavy, wet snow at Dulles and just over a half-foot at National. But the terminals and concourses remained open.
Metro officials say its rail system can operate “very close to normal” during a snowfall of four to six inches, but say that trains could be more crowded than usual if folks opt to take the train rather than drive. Efforts to clear snow and ice from tracks and equipment might also mean delays between trains.
In cases where there are more than eight inches of snow, however, Metro officials may halt service on above-ground sections of track. That’s because the large amounts of snow can cause problems with the third rail that powers the train. Above-ground tracks might ice over and there may be problems in rail yards as the snow collects.
Below is a map of the portion of Metro’s system that is above-ground.
Metro might also reduce bus service in the event of icy conditions or significant snowfall. Metro has designated “severe snow routes” along major roads that it will attempt to operate. Click here for a list of those routes.