Thanksgiving travel: Tips for navigating storm delays

Thanksgiving travel from Texas to New England could be a tough ride over the river and through the woods as a winter storm sets off a chain reaction of congestion and delay.

Gene J. Puskar/AP
Holiday travelers wait in the security line at Pittsburgh International Airport in Imperial, Pa., Tuesday afternoon. Winter weather advisories and storm warnings have been posted for much of Pennsylvania as a storm bearing a wintry mix of precipitation rolls into the commonwealth.

The biggest travel week of the year is developing into a difficult one for holiday travelers as a winter storm moving northeast from Texas is already causing hazardous road conditions and forcing mass flight cancellations.

Air travelers heading to the airport are encouraged to check for delays far in advance via the airline or airport sites, Twitter, or third-party flight-tracking sites like Flightaware.com.

In case of cancellations, some airlines have flexible travel policies in which they waive change fees or extend the travel window when itinerary changes can be made.

American Airlines, for example, announced Tuesday that it was cancelling change fees if travelers are booked to fly Wednesday to Baltimore, Boston, Hartford, New York City, Newark, Philadelphia, Washington, and White Plains, N.Y., and reschedule to fly Tuesday through Friday.

Switching to a new flight Tuesday or Wednesday becomes easier if there’s no need to check a bag. Plus, flying early Thursday is often easier than late Wednesday, which is the peak travel time this week.

The storm originated in Gulf of Mexico, producing icy roads and freezing rain in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and southern Kansas and causing 11 deaths.

About 1,400 flights were canceled over the weekend, the majority in Texas. American Airlines, along with its affiliate American Eagle, canceled some 950 flights by Monday in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, causing disruptions at major hubs. Such cancellations are especially worrisome for travelers who may experience a domino effect of big delays Tuesday and Wednesday at major hubs in New York, Chicago, Washington, Boston, and Philadelphia.

The potential for flight delays is increased on the East Coast, where heavy snows and icy rain are forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning from the Tennessee Valley to western New England. Up to nine inches of snow are expected to cover the northern parts of West Virginia. Freezing rain conditions will blanket the Appalachians and western mid-Atlantic into the Northeast.

If this scenario pans out, major travel disruptions could be in store for portions of I-80, I-81, I-87, I-90 and I-91.

The National Weather Service reports severe thunderstorms are expected for parts of Florida and the coastal Southeast.

The rain conditions threaten to flood roadways, as well as reduce visibility. About 90 percent of the 43.4 million Americans traveling for the Thursday holiday will do so by car, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). The highest volume of holiday travelers this week will leave Wednesday (37 percent) and return Sunday (33 percent).

So far, the majority of storm-related deaths were in Texas and Oklahoma.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.