Storm Leaves Flights Canceled, Passengers Waiting

Snow, snow, everywhere snow and it's wreaking havoc on air travel. The winter storm that paralyzed airports in the South merged with another blizzard that moved through the Midwest and smacked the Northeast, resulting in thousands of canceled flights.

In New York alone, more than 675 flights arriving or departing from the area's three major airports were canceled today. FlightAware, which tracks flight information straight from the FAA, showed flights departing New York being delayed up to 4 hours, and flights out of Boston delayed 3½ hours.

In Hartford, which got two feet of snow, most flights were canceled at Bradley International Airport, reports WFSB-TV. Passengers, including those trying to get to warm weather spots, were left waiting to see if they could get on flights.

The good news is the Federal Aviation Administration's Air Traffic Control System showed at noon today no airports were closed.

But there will be travel headaches stemming from a bottleneck of travelers trying to rebook flights. The Associated Press reports thousands of flights were canceled on Tuesday: Delta Air Lines canceled 1,700 flights; US Airways nearly 1,000; American 500; United Airlines 250; and Continental 244.

The aftermath should clear up faster than the recent snowstorm that shut down East Coast airports over the busy Christmas weekend. In that storm and its aftermath more than 10,000 flights were canceled impacting more than a million passengers.

Many airlines are offering waivers to travelers affected by the storm. United, Continental, American Airlines and US Airways, for instance, have all said passengers with tickets for travel to affected areas through January 13, can rebook flights at no cost. JetBlue and Southwest are doing the same for those with tickets for flights today.

In general, passengers with waivers will also not be charged fare differences for the new tickets, but this varies from airline to airline.

If flying today or tomorrow, make sure to check for delays before heading to the airport through your airline or a source such as FlightAware.

Passengers needing to rebook a delayed or canceled flight should remember that airline reservation centers are dealing with a huge number of calls. You may be better off rebooking through your carrier's website.

Delta has increased staff to deal with high call volumes and is also encouraging its customers to use its website and Twitter for customer assistance.

"Delta has worked to enhance our technology to empower customers to make changes to their travel plans without having to talk directly to a reservations agent," says Delta spokeswoman Susan Chan Elliott.

Those looking for hotel compensation, free meals, upgrades or other freebies should be aware that airlines are not required to cover such costs since the storm is beyond their control.

(Fran Golden contributed to this report.)

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