winter storms

Airlines cancel flights; waive change fees for newest storms

bentley snowflake

Another big mess out there for travelers this week as winter storms blow in and cancel flights to, from and through the Midwest, Northeast and lots of other places – like Phoenix, where everyone is trying to head home after that heartbreaking (for Seahawks fans…) Super Bowl game.

Airlines have already canceled thousands of flights and posted instructions on which cities are included, the waiver policies on change fees and how best to rebook a flight.

Here’s a list of links to airline travel advisories. Check back often as some airlines still need to catch up from the weekend and others will likely alter or extend their policies.

Alaska Airlines

American Airlines

Delta Air Lines

Frontier Air Lines

Jet Blue

Southwest Airlines

Spirit Airlines

United Airlines

Virgin America

US Airways

 

 

Escape the cold on vacation? It will cost you.

Radisson Blue

The beach bar at the Radisson Blu Resort, Marina & Spa on the Caribbean island of St. Martin.Courtesy of the hotel.

 

 

The “get me out of here!” calls are rolling in to travel counselors around the country as spring break kicks off and yet more winter storms bring bitter cold weather to many parts of the United States.

“People are literally crying to help us get them somewhere with guaranteed good weather,” said Jack Ezon, president of Ovation Vacations, a member of the Virtuoso luxury travel network.

“Our winter business has spiked 38.5 percent in the past three weeks. And last minute business, meaning requests 10 days out or less, accounts for a whopping 78 percent of our business this year for winter travel,” he said.

Several online agencies, including STA Travel, a discount student agency, report the same.

“We have definitely seen an increase in requests recently, mainly to Cancun,” STA spokeswoman Teresa Cordova said. Some of the more popular places are sold out, and prices at other properties are about 30 percent more expensive than they were six weeks ago, she said.

CheapOair.com’s data show travel to warmer destinations has increased 27 percent over the past few weeks to destinations including Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean.

“If you haven’t booked your spring break yet, do so immediately and have a backup list of where you want to go,” said Mark Drusch, chief supplier relations officer for CheapOair.com. “Consider counter-seasonal destinations or international destinations, such as Central America, perhaps more so this year due to the weather and its impact on bookings.”

At the Radisson Blu Resort, Marina & Spa on the Caribbean island of St. Martin “rooms are flying off the shelves,” General Manager Jean-Marc Jalbert said via email. “We are right in the middle of the perfect storm—a good one. We have not raised our prices because of the weather, but we have been pretty much sold out since the second week of January.”

Jalbert said unlike previous years, there is no negotiating on rate room rates right now and that if superior or deluxe rooms are no longer available, “the guests buy suites, just to get out of the cold weather. We have also seen people extending their stay at the last minute, reluctant to go back to the cold.”

Ovation Travel’s Ezon hasn’t noticed many hotels raising their rates as a result of the bad weather in the United States, but says many properties are blocking out promotions or are instituting minimum stays.

“The other big challenge right now is getting people to their destinations,” said Ezon.

The unrelenting winter storms are motivating people to plan and book trips to warm weather destinations, but bus, train and airline cancellations often get in the way.

“My advice for all winter refugees is to buy insurance that covers either ‘cancel for any reason’ or delay/cancellation based on weather,” said Ezon. “And make sure to buy it from someone who understands the nuances in the policies, because not all will pay for your vacation if your flight is merely canceled due to snow.”

(My store about winter storms spiking demand for vacations in warm weather destinations first appeared on CNBC Road Warrior)

 

Weather woes, airline advisories, fee waivers

Pittsburgh Airport clearing snow

Winter storms continue to mess up travel plans all over the country, with FlightAware already reporting more than 1,900 canceled flights for Wednesday as the clock struck midnight on the east coast on Tuesday night.

Here are links to travel advisories and change fee waivers posted by airlines for Midwest and East Coast travelers as of late Tuesday night (Feb 4).

As always, it is a good idea to check (and check back…) with your airline before heading to the airport.

American Airlines:

Midwest U.S. advisory: for travel through February 5 to, through or from a long list of Midwest cities, the airline will allow you travel instead through February 9th. Details here.

Eastern U.S. Travel Policy: For travel scheduled through February 6 to, through or from a long list of cities in the east, the airline will waive the change fee if you travel instead by February 9th. Details here.

Delta Air Lines has posted a Northeast Winter Weather advisory for travel to, through or from a long list of cities for travel scheduled through February 5th. Details here.

Frontier Airlines has posted its winter storm advisory rules here for a long list of cities in the Midwest.

JetBlue has issued a Winter Storm Nike Fee Waiver advisory offering to waive change/cancel fees for flight to, through or from a long list of cities on the east coast. Details here.

Southwest Airlines has posted a weather advisory through February 5 for a long list of cities. Details here.

Spirit Airlines has rules for its current Weather Buster policy here.

United Airlines has a long list of cities covered by the advisories listed for the Midwest and East Coast storms. Details here.

US Airways has listed the cities affected by its winter storm advisory here.

Virgin America also has a travel advisory posted for the Midwest and the East Coast for many of the cities it serves. Details here.

Updates: travel advisories and airline fee waivers

Snowglobe

Here’s the latest list of travel advisories and fee waivers posted by airlines:

American AirlinesInformation updated on January 7 for travel scheduled through January 8 to a long list of cities.

Delta Air Lines – Information updated on Delta’s site on January 6 for Midwest and Northeast weather.

Frontier Air LinesInformation updated on Frontier’s site January 6 with advisories for travel through January 7.

Jet Blue Information updated by Jet Blue on January 7 with advisories for a long list of cities. The airline also has a list of “Operational Update FAQs” on its blog.

Southwest Airlines has travel advisories posted for Chicago Midway through January 7 and for several other cities.

US Airways updated its travel advisories to cover travel to many cities through January 8.

United Airlines now has travel advisories in effect for many cities through January 8 as well.