Snow! Airlines cancel flights, waive change fees for winter storm

This Thursday morning screenshot of the USA TODAY Weather map shows a winter storm spreading messy weather across the Midwest and Northeast on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018 (Photo: USA TODAY Weather)


Air travelers faced delays and cancellations Thursday as an early-season winter storm brought messy weather to the Midwest and Northeast.

Nationwide, more than 180 flights had been canceled as of 6:45 a.m. ET, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.

Most of those cancellations came at just two airports: St. Louis and Washington’s Reagan National Airport.

In St. Louis, where up to 8 inches of snow was forecast, about 40 combined departures and arrivals had been canceled for Thursday. Many of those came on Southwest, which preemptively grounded “a couple of dozen flights … ahead of the inclement weather,” according to spokeswoman Ro Hawthorne.

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At Washington’s Reagan National Airport, a mix of snow, ice and rain was forecast for Thursday morning. More than 55 combined arrivals and departures had been canceled at that airport, a hub for American Airlines. The wintry mix in Washington was expected to give way to a cold rain by afternoon, a development that may keep the cancellation count from growing there.

Most big airlines were waiving changes fees for Thursday travelers at numerous airports.

The details varied by carrier, but – generally – they allowed travelers at certain airports to make one change to their itineraries without paying recalculated fares or change fees that typically cost $200 or more. Some waivers covered only Thursday travel, but others covered flights on Friday and Saturday.  

The busy airports serving New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore and Boston were covered in many of the different waivers.

United Airlines’ waiver covered about three-dozen airports from Virginia through New England and Canada, including the carrier’s hubs at Newark Liberty and Washington Dulles.

Delta’s waiver covered flyers ticketed for Thursday travel at 14 airports from Virginia through Massachusetts. Hubs at New York JFK and New York LaGuardia were included, as was Delta’s focus city in Boston.

American’s waiver covered more than 20 airports from Virginia to New Hampshire, including its hubs at Philadelphia, Washington Reagan National and New York JFK.

JetBlue’s rebooking policy covered Thursday travel to dozen airports across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast while Spirit’s covered seven airports across Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.

Southwest does not charge change fees, but its waiver allowed flyers on some routes to make one change without paying a new fare. The waiver applied to flights to about 20 airports in the Midwest, mid-Atlantic and New England regions.

At Spirit, seven airports in Ohio, New England and the mid-Atlantic were included. 

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