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The Weather Channel's headline of "Wind, Snow, East Coast Storm May Frustrate Fliers and Drivers" isn't what travelers want to read before heading out for a stressful holiday trip. And yet that's exactly what much of the United States will do this week for the Thanksgiving holiday.
To prevent entering the five emotional stages of a flight delay, and keep your cool so you reach your destination as close to on-time as possible, take our tried and true airport survival tips to heart:
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When the airport looks like thisaircraft being de-iced and a departure board of yellow and red delays and cancellationsthen it's time to explore your options.
An extended delay may result in a gate agent handing you vouchers for services you wouldn't have otherwise needed had your flight flown on time. There are vouchers for a night at an airport hotel (a specific hotel, not your choice), vouchers for transportation, vouchers for future flights, and vouchers for meals at the airport. What vouchers you receive will depend on the nature of the delay, and anything that's the airline's fault (for example: crew scheduling, equipment issues) naturally yields more.
The most flexible vouchers are actually those for meals, but don't make a bee-line for the nearest McDonalds or $10 sandwich!
Typical meal vouchers allot $7 for breakfast, and $12 each for lunch and dinner, per person. That's not very much considering the current costs of airport foodLAX sells $19 salads, after allbut a little creativity and some basic math will get your tummy full of healthy options.
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Update: 12pm EST Flights into and out of Chicago are resuming at a "reduced rate." It has been stated that the fire which caused today's interruption was deliberately set, but was not an act of terrorism. It was set by a man found with self-inflicted wounds, in the basement of the facility.
Early this morning, smoke began billowing out of an FAA facility in Aurora, IL. The fire, whose cause remains suspicious, nonetheless made an impact on US air travel as all flights set to travel into or out of Chicago's O'Hare and Midway Airports were delayed or cancelled, along with many others simply set to fly through the Chicago control area. As of 10am EST, FlightStats.com was reporting upwards of 400 cancelled and 300 delayed flights for the airports.
As expected, lines within the airports stretched along with phone wait times for further information. One gate at O'Hare was reported to quote "30 minutes or 3 hours" for the delay, which demonstrates the uncertainties at the time.
If you're scheduled to fly anywhere in the United States today, please check with your airline (we'd recommend via their official Twitter account or website, with posted alerts) before heading to the airport. As always, be sure to embark on travels today with fully-charged electronics, packed snacks, and some flexibility and patience for the tens of thousands of other stuck in a similar position or worse.
Hundreds of people in line at American Airlines check in at O'Hare. Passengers say the 800 # has a 2-hour wait also. pic.twitter.com/IZyRsTSPoC— Tony Briscoe (@_TonyBriscoe) September 26, 2014
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Flight delays and cancellations suck. Period. But since the U.S. government has levied guidelines on how airlines compensate travelers who experience flight disruptions, the situation has improved. Still, those strict rules and guidelines for payouts can be very confusing, and it's no wonder the casual flyer still has no clue what's due to them.
Luckily there's now an app for that.
Enter Claimair. This handy mobile app is basically the perfect flow chart if you have a cancelled flight, excessively delayed arrival, denied boarding, or facing lost baggage. So next time you're blood pressure is rising, step away from the gate and tap on this new app.
Start by choosing your flight inconvenience, then input flight details and answer a few questions directly in-app. ClaimAir will then display a result of what is due to you options on how to go about claiming it.
January 2014 has been quite the banner month for travel disruptions, with thousands upon thousands of flights delayed or cancelled. And the month’s not even over yet!
On the bright side, at least all this weather-related trouble has likely toughened up casual flyers and instigated some good travel practices, like checking flight status before leaving for the airport and considering itineraries that avoid airports prone to winter weather warnings.
Still, there comes a point at which nothing more can be done but to endure the delay and hope Mother Nature rejoins your side. For times like those, we present the 5 stages of Flight Delays*
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A Delta Connection regional jet gets shovelled out after sliding off the runway yesterday at JFK Airport
Trying to fly somewhere today in the United States? It's going to be rough, no matter your destination, thanks to Mother Nature's mood swings and record low temperatures with record high snowfalls at a list of major airports. Even if there's no cold weather cities on your itinerary, keep in mind that air crew have to be able to get to the airport to work and the airplane for your flight usually has to fly in from somewhere else, and that somewhere else could be one of locations crippled by mass delays and cancellations.
This isn't negativity, but reality. Snowfall in the Midwest tops 12" with polar wind chill, rain mixed with icy gusts has created extremely hazardous icing conditions on the east coast, and Denver is just...Denver in the winter.
At 1pm EST today, JetBlue made the decision to stop all of their flights into or out of JFK, LaGuardia, Boston and Newark airports until at least 10am Tuesday. 300 flights are affected, but that's a smidgeon compared to the total 4,100+ flight cancellations and 11,000 delays today alone. [*FlightAware]
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Hercules is in town! No, we don't mean the strongman hero of myth, but rather the winter storm hitting the East Coast this morning, given the name "Hercules" by The Weather Channel. Airlines began canceling flights last night (2,647, according to FlightAware) and the bad news continues through this morning, with FlightAware's Misery Map showing 1,664 cancellations as of 7am EST this morning. Those numbers don't include delays!
Airports like Chicago-O'Hare enjoyed an early onslaught of traveler frustration yesterday evening as those cancellations and delays lit up the Departures board in red and yellow. An Instagram from comedian Deon Cole shows as much, although he has a fun take on the situation: "The airport in Chicago is insane! All this airport is missing is a DJ!"
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It's only 10am on the east coast and already airlines have already canceled thousands of flights (it was already at 1,000 cancelled by 9am, according to USA Today) and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey have already announced that they're not taking it laying down; JFK Airport is putting into service some 900 tons of salt, 200 tons of sand, and plenty of liquid de-icers, trucks, plows, blowers, and staff.
There's all of this focus on New York City and travelers stuck in the Big Apple's airports, which is understandable considering it's the city at the center of the world with major international flight connections, but let's not forget the scores of tired and cranky folks delayed at other airports around the country, trying to make it to and not away from NYC.
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While winter storm "Boreas" bears down on the east coast of the United States, travelers around the world are beginning to be touched by the flight delays and cancellations. Hundreds of flights already met the chopping block today, and with the worst of both the storm and the highest travel season of the year yet to come, you can expect it'll be a rough one for the airlines and airports clear through until next week.
Fortunately, several airlines have dropped ticket change fees to allow flyers with flexibility to attempt to fly later, on less hectic and less stormy days. Granted that may mean missing Thanksgiving at home, but if the alternative is an airport Sbarro's, then you know what to do.
American Airlines: Airports affected include New York-LGA, New York-JFK, Newark, Philadelphia, White Plains, Boston, Hartford, Washington DC-IAD, Washington DC-DCA, and Baltimore. Fee-free changes are so far only permitted if your original travel date falls on November 27.
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You're stuck. You're cranky. You're uncomfortable. If you're lucky, your home until you can fly out will be a hotel or the living room of a friend, but many will find themselves sleeping at the airport and that's just no fun. Here, however, are Five items you can buy at the airport to survive long flight delays:
· Beach Towel: Not only does it soften a sleep on the floor or hard chairs, but it's also effective as a dirt barrier between you and whatever is on that floor/soaked into the waiting area chairs. Spread it out on a blanket to curl up on, roll it up to use as a pillow or cover yourself with it like a blanket for privacy or warmth. There are many uses for something so simple, and luckily it should be cheap enough to throw out once your flight does board and depart.
· A carabiner clip: If you're planning on getting some good sleep, it's always an excellent idea to secure your belongings just in case. Buying a carabiner clip keychain or something similar may keep your purse strap/laptop bag handle/shoes/airport purchases bag next to you all night, instead of having it easily picked up and wandered off with while you're snoozing.
Weather / Storm Travel / Boreas / Thanksgiving Travel / Holiday Travel / Travel Tips / Airports / Layovers / Delays / → All Tags
With perfect timing, Mother Nature is rearing her head for Thanksgiving by dropping a Nor'easter storm named "Boreas" on the east coast. Airlines are already issuing change fee waivers for the major airports of the Northeast, and the rain is supposed to be heavy enough to cause massive delays and cancellations through Thursday and possibly even Friday.
While there's all of this focus on NYC, Boston, Washington DC and Philadelphia, let's not forget the scores of tired and cranky folks about to be delayed at other airports around the country, trying to make it to and not away from the East Coast just to eat some turkey with family.
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The emergency situation of Friday at Los Angeles International Airport is thankfully over, but while the police continue their investigation into the gunman who entered Terminal 3 and shot TSA agents (killing one), the airport itself returns to mostly normal operations.
For travelers with upcoming flights into or out of LAX, here's the latest answers on what's up at the airport: