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Airlines cancel 2,200 flights, waive fees due to weather

9:59 AM, Jan 21, 2014   |    comments
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A developing East Coast snow storm is creating headaches today for air travelers in the Northeast, with the ripple effects likely to affect flights in other parts of the country.

Airlines already have canceled more than 2,200 flights as of 10 a.m. ET, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.

Most of those cancellations were "preemptive," with more than 1,900 of that number coming prior to 7 a.m. ET and before the first flakes had begun to fall in big cities like New York, Philadelphia and Washington.

And that tally seems certain to keep growing as the storm intensifies later this morning. Forecasts predict rapidly accumulating snow and strong winds at busy airports from Washington, D.C., north through Philadelphia and Boston.

Most big airlines have waived rebooking fees for most travelers flying through airports affected by the storm. Restrictions apply, but the waivers generally let fliers make one change to their itineraries without the standard change fees or fare recalculations.

As for the flight cancellations, the early morning tally is spread at a number of the East's - and the nation's - busiest airports.

FlightAware calculates that more than 20% of the scheduled flights had been canceled as of 7 a.m. at Baltimore/Washington (BWI), New York LaGuardia, New York JFK, Newark Liberty, Philadelphia, Washington Dulles and Washington Reagan National. Another busy Northeast airport - Boston Logan - had nearly 20% of its flights canceled as of 10 a.m. ET, according to FlightAware.

By 10 a.m., more than a third of all flights bound for LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Washington Reagan National and Newark Liberty had been canceled, according to FlightAware.

Nearly every big U.S. carrier operates at least one hub at one of the airports seeing significant disruptions from the storm. United operates two of its busiest hubs at Newark Liberty and Washington Dulles. Delta has big bases at both LaGuardia and JFK airports while both JetBlue and American operate busy hubs at JFK. US Airways counts both Philadelphia and Washington National among its hubs. And BWI is one of the busiest airports in Southwest's networks.

Given the importance of those airports, fliers should expect disruptions in those cities to affect flights elsewhere in the country -- even in regions with calm weather. A flight from Las Vegas to Phoenix, for example, could become delayed or canceled if the aircraft or crew scheduled to operate the flight gets bogged down in the snowy east.

USA Today

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