Will nor'easter blow Thanksgiving travel plans?
Hours before snow was forecast to begin Wednesday, more than 200 flights were canceled at airports in the northeast as Thanksgiving travelers scrambled to change their plans.
Mineola, N.Y. — One of the busiest, most stressful travel days of the year posed special challenges in the crowded Washington-to-Boston corridor as travelers on their way to Thanksgiving celebrations contended with a nor'easter packing rain and snow.
Hours before snow was forecast to begin Wednesday, more than 200 flights were canceled at airports in the northeast. Thousands of flight delays also were expected as snow moved into the area in the afternoon, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.
Some travelers tried to change their plans and take earlier flights.
West Point Cadet Jameson Albers, 21, originally had a 5:30 p.m. flight home to Nashville from LaGuardia Airport. "I bumped my flight to an 11:30 (a.m.) flight to try to get in before the really bad weather hits," he said.
Major northeast cities were likely to see moderate to heavy rain most of the day, though New York could see 1 to 4 inches of snow while its northern suburbs could get 6 to 8 inches, the National Weather Service said. And higher elevation areas west of the Interstate 95 corridor could see as much as 6 to 12 inches before the nor'easter exits Wednesday night.
"Right now, we don't see snow as a big issue in most of the major cities like Washington, Philadelphia and New York," meteorologist Bruce Sullivan said.
FlightAware.com says approximately 180 flights were canceled Wednesday morning in Newark, New Jersey, and at New York's LaGuardia, Kennedy and White Plains airports.
More than a dozen flights were canceled at Philadelphia International Airport and a handful at Boston Logan Airport.
NJ Transit executive director Veronique Haim said Wednesday is the commuter mass transit agency's busiest travel day of the year.
In addition to operating on a weekday schedule, NJ Transit said additional "early getaway" service will be available from New York, Newark and Hoboken Terminal starting Wednesday afternoon.
Major airlines dropped their ticket-change fees for people flying in and out of the Northeast, allowing passengers to try to sneak on an earlier flight, though that appeared to be a challenging proposition since most planes were filled.
United said it was planning to cancel 100 flights Wednesday in and out of Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey — a small fraction of the traffic there. Delta planned to cancel 57 flights.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports, said it was lining up extra staff and snow removal equipment in the event of a heavy snowfall. Crews were prepared to work in 12-hour shifts if necessary, officials said.
Associated Press Writers Jill Colvin in Newark, New Jersey, Denise Lavoie in Boston, and Scott Mayerowitz and Karen Matthews in New York contributed to this report.