The latest round of winter weather is fueling another wave of flight disruptions at major U.S. airports. After thousands of cancellations last weekend, the air travel headaches are piling up for travelers again Friday — with the biggest problems concentrated throughout the busy Northeast and mid-Atlantic corridor.
Airlines had canceled more than 915 flights in the U.S. as of 11:45 a.m. EST on Friday. An additional 3,500 were delayed, according to FlightAware.
The problems stem from a winter storm that brought snow to the Washington, D.C., region Friday morning, with the wintry conditions expected to plague the Northeast throughout much of the day.
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New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) has been hit hard, with around 15% of flights canceled Friday. The Federal Aviation Administration warned of ground delays averaging nearly three hours because of the weather conditions. Delays averaged nearly two hours at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).
Travelers have also encountered significant disruptions at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), with around a fifth of flights canceled Friday, due in large part to a ground stop that halted departures for part of the morning.
A social media post shared by the airport early Friday showed crews working to clear snow from runways.
Though the snow appears likely to taper off as the weekend begins, the cancellations and delays at crucial East Coast hubs could lead to some cascading flight troubles across the country.
MAX 9 cancellations continue
The disruptions, which hampered air travel last weekend and into the early part of this week, have complicated an already challenging air travel situation brought on by the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft across the country following the emergency on an Alaska Airlines flight two weeks ago.
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As inspectors examine all MAX 9 jets with the door plug piece involved in the Jan. 5 midair blowout, it’s still not clear when the FAA will allow the planes back in the air — fueling hundreds of additional daily cancellations across Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, the two U.S. carriers that fly the plane.
What should you do if your flight is canceled or delayed?
If your flight is canceled or delayed, the first place you should visit is your airline’s app. Whether it’s a cancellation or a delay affecting a connecting flight, the airline may offer you the chance to rebook yourself on a new flight with just a few taps.
This can allow you to avoid waiting on hold or in a long line at the airport.
If you don’t see a suitable option, you can try any combination of the following options:
- Head to the nearest customer service line.
- Call the airline’s customer service phone number (and be sure to have your confirmation number handy).
- See if there’s a live chat option on your airline’s app or on a web browser — this can often be faster than waiting in a long queue.
- If you’re an airline lounge member, try the customer service desk there, since the waits are often far shorter.
When your flight is canceled because of weather, the airline generally won’t provide reimbursement for unexpected hotel nights, ground transportation or meals — compensation that is often available when the disruption is the airline’s responsibility. However, by booking your trip with a credit card that includes trip insurance, you often can recoup those unexpected costs even when your travel troubles are the fault of Mother Nature.