Winter Storm Elliott’s Christmas travel impact.

Christmas is fast approaching, and Winter Storm Elliott, which is hitting major portions of the Plains and Midwest and affecting passenger travel, is adamant about stealing the shine (quite literally).

Forecasters expect the storm to affect flight service and road travel throughout the United States, impacting travel in the Pacific Northwest, and bringing strong winds, high snowfall, and possible flash freezes. 

Airlines have begun issuing travel waivers, which allow passengers to reschedule flights without penalty. With more than 47,000 flights scheduled before the holiday, many have begun issuing waivers. As many as 5,000 flights could be delayed or canceled, according to AccuWeather experts.

What states will be affected and when?

The storm waivers affect several major cities on Thursday and Friday, including Baltimore, Boise, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Seattle, Washington DC, and more. Thursday and Friday will also bring freezing temperatures to the Deep South.

What should I do? 

Today into Friday will be the most difficult days of travel with the storm hitting the Midwest extremely hard with excessive snowfall and winds, and many are changing travel plans to earlier or later, some even opting to drive to destinations (although not totally recommended) instead of flying.

Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United are offering waivers for passengers to change their flights without cancellation or change fees. United, for example, currently has a rebooking window spanning Dec 19 – Dec 28, 2022, with well over 100 airports under the waiver.

If my flight is delayed or canceled, what rights do I have?

In the event of a flight cancellation, the Department of Transportation requires that all airlines refund your ticket, even if it was a nonrefundable fare. Every airline’s policy is slightly different in terms of delayed flights, so it is best to contact the carrier directly.  

Weather-related delays are often not compensated by airlines since they are beyond their control.

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