Saturday, December 25, 2010

When a White Christmas means a travel delay...

Southern states like Atlanta and South Carolina rarely experience the wonder of a White Christmas.  Snow makes for lovely landscapes and is generally regarded as a magical thing at Christmastime.  But as the tallies for predicted snowfall stack up, the impact is taking another, less-desirable turn: travel delays and cancelations.

In response to Christmas Day snowfall predictions ranging from three inches in Atlanta (where Delta maintains its primary East Coast hub) to up to 10 inches in Norfolk, Delta has already announced plans to cancel some 500 flights nationwide.  AirTran, which maintains a strong presence in Atlanta, will also feel this impact.

Other airlines will not be affected as strongly on Christmas, as their own hubs lie farther up the coast.  But the impacts will come later.  Sunday predictions are for 2-5 inches in Washington, D.C. and 5-10 inches in Philadelphia, impacting United and U.S. Airways respectively.  Along the way, Southwest's operations at BWI will get buried in the mix.

Late on Sunday and continuing into Monday, 10-15 inches are anticipated in New York, impacting not only Continental's hub in Newark but also all of the international flights in and out of JFK as well as New York's JetBlue service.  Boston may see 12-18 inches on Monday.

What to do if a flight is cancelled

If you flight is cancelled, you'll be accommodated on a later flight.  However, that may be too late to manage your holiday plans as they stand.  The problem with snow cancellations in particular is that they tend to wipe out other options as well. 

Amtrak, for instance, keeps moving through a few inches of snow, but a few feet tends to impact the rail lines.  Bus services like BoltBus and MegaBus, being subject to the challenges of the highways, are also impacted by snow.

Your best friend is information.  Check flight status using sites like FlightStats.com so you'll know the situation as it unfolds. 

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