Thanksgiving travel

Airports, airlines, travelers brace for winter weather

Tough traveling this Thanksgiving

Severe winter storms are already wreaking havoc with Thanksgiving travel plans across the country.

Denver International and many other airports are taking out their snowplows and de-icing gear and advising travelers to be sure to check the status of their flights before leaving home.

Many airlines are offering fee-free flight changes, waivers on fare differences for rebooked flights and refunds left and right.

In some cases, they are encouraging passengers to switch to flights leaving a day or two early.

At 9 p.m. on the west coast, these are some of the airlines issuing travel alerts. No doubt there will be updates and more alerts by morning and over the next few days. So, if you’re scheduled to fly anytime over this holiday, be sure to check your airline’s website and sign up for alerts about your flight.

American Airlines has a travel alert for passengers scheduled to fly November 27 to/through or from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Delta Air Lines has travel advisories posted for flights to, from or through Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on November 27 as well.

Frontier Airlines has canceled many flights through Denver and Colorado Springs, CO on Tuesday, November 26. Advisories for rebooking and refunds are on their site.

JetBlue has posted travel alerts for flights in and out of Denver International Airport on Tuesday, November 26.

Southwest Airlines is warning customers that flight schedules may be “disrupted,” as in delayed, diverted, and/or canceled on Tuesday, November 26 in Denver and on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 26 and 27 through Minneapolis/St. Paul.

United Airlines’ winter weather alert also applies to flights in and out of Denver on Tuesday 26.

Bottom line: even if the weather looks great where you are – or where you’re headed to, bad weather in other parts of the country can still disrupt your travels. Check flights, check again and, as always, pack lots of patience when you go to the airport this time of year.

Storm coming: airlines cancel flights /waive change fees

Don’t defrost the turkey just yet, because it looks like Winter Storm Cato is going to ruin Thanksgiving for a lot of travelers.

Snowstorm

Starting Tuesday afternoon, airlines began cancelling flights and issuing fee waivers for travelers who want to cancel or rebook their trips.

As of Tuesday evening, pretty much every North American airline has a travel advisory posted on its site. International airlines with flights to and from the U.S. are likely alerting their customers to cancellations as well.

Below are links to the travel alerts, coverage dates and fee waiver policies as of Tuesday evening, November 25th for many major airlines. If you’ve got a trip planned, be sure to check the airline’s website, Facebook page or Twitter feed – and those of your airport – for the latest news.

Air Canada
Alaska Airlines
American Airlines
Dela Air Lines
Frontier
JetBlue
Spirit
Southwest Airlines
US Airways
United Airlines
Virgin America
WestJet

Thanksgiving Travel Tibits: food, music & smoke

If you’re traveling through an airport during this week’s Thanksgiving travel madness, here are some travel tidbits to keep in mind.

Worried about second-hand smoke?

Then don’t stand near airport smoking lounges  – and consider holding your breath when you walk by.

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average air pollution levels from secondhand smoke directly outside designated smoking areas in airports are five times higher than levels in smoke-free airports.

The CDC studied five large hub U.S. airports with designated smoking areas accessible to the public (Denver International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Las Vegas’ McCarran International, Salt Lake City International, and Washington Dulles International) and also found that air pollution levels inside designated smoking areas were 23 times higher than levels in smoke-free airports. In the study, designated smoking areas in airports included restaurants, bars, and ventilated smoking rooms.


Turkey dinner in the sky and at airports

Virgin America has a holiday turkey sandwich on the buy-on-board menu

If you end up spending your Thanksgiving Day in an airport or on an airplane, you may not have to give up on Turkey Dinner.

In Florida, the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, inside Orlando International Airport, is serving a mid-day Thanksgiving buffet and several restaurants inside Miami International Airport, including the Ice Box Café (Turkey Special with all the works, pecan pie and a glass of vino for $ 20, all week) and the Top of the Port restaurant in the Miami International Airport Hotel, are also planning to serve traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

At JFK International Airport in New York, passengers flying out of the JetBlue’s Terminal 5 (T5) will be able to load up on turkey dinner in the Food Court Hot Bar. (Price is by the weight of your plate.)

In the air, Southwest Airlines is offering passengers a complimentary alcohol drink on Thanksgiving Day, Virgin America has a holiday-style turkey sandwich on its buy-on-board menu, but no other domestic airline I contacted is making any special note of the holiday.

But several international airlines are:

Etihad Airways, Air Berlin and Singapore Air are among those offering special Thanksgiving meals to passengers flying to and from US gateways.

And many airports have their holiday entertainment schedule underway:

On Wednesday, Nov 21 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will have a costumed character to read to children near the Red Balloon Bookshop across from Gate C12 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the hour and half-hour.

At Miami International Airport, there’s a whole bunch of activities going on Wednesday Nov 21 and again on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 24th and 25th, including a caricaturist, opportunities to get your photos taken in a harvest background, craft projects for kids and giveaways.

San Francisco’s You Are Hear concert series is underway, with performers scheduled in various spots throughout the airport on Wednesday, Dec. 21.

There’s live music scheduled for several spots in Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports on Wednesday as well. Find details about those airport concerts here.

And the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, which has 19 (or is it 100?) live concerts each week, has several performances scheduled for Wednesday as well.

Free airport cab rides. Turkey Day at MIA, Santa at IND

Getting ready for Thanksgiving travel? Here a few things that may help.

The folks at Shairporter – a new cab-sharing social platform – is promoting its New York City launch by giving away free cab rides on November 21 to New Yorkers traveling to the airport who register their ride through the Shairporter platform.

If you’re traveling through the Miami International Airport on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, November 19-21 or on Saturday and Sunday, November 24th and 25th, you’ll find activities underway that include a DJ, Pilgrim and Indian greeters, a kids craft station, a stilt-walking scarecrow, giveaways and a harvest background for taking photos. Here’s a link to the list of events and a sheet of coupons for the shops and restaurants.

And if you’re at Indianapolis International Airport on Saturday, November 24th, keep an eye out for Santa. He’ll be arriving on a giant fire and rescue truck (the reindeer only work on Christmas Eve) and once in the terminal, he’ll be hanging around the pre-security Civic Plaza from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. overseeing activities that include taking pictures with kids, holiday decoration-making stations, and photos and autograph opportunities with the Indianapolis Pacers Pacemates and Rowdie Claus from the Indianapolis Indians

Musical help for Thanksgiving travel

Are you traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday?

You certainly won’t be alone.

And, at many airports, you won’t be bored.

That’s because a full schedule of holiday music, entertainment and special events is scheduled to take place in terminals and concourses around the country.

One example:

San Francisco International Airport’s You Are Hear series, kicks off Wednesday, November 23rd, with performances from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in three different spots in the airport: Bart Davenport, a pop & soul singer/songwriter, will be in Terminal 1; the Nice Guy Trio will perform jazz and world music in Terminal 2; and the Del Sol Quartet will offer new classical music in the International Terminal.

Not traveling to or though SFO? Many other airports are offering holiday entertainment, shopping promotions, free gift wrapping and other events as well. Check your airport’s website, or check back here for more listings throughout the week.