Heads up if you’re due to fly this week: a major East Coast storm might disrupt your travel plans.
Winter Storm Gail is forecast to impact a wide swath of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions on Wednesday and Thursday, stretching from Maine all the way down to southern Virginia and western North Carolina.
For the big cities, according to the Weather Service, the snowfall forecast for Washington, D.C., is 3 to 4 inches; for Philadelphia, 8 to 12 inches; for New York City, 14 inches; and 8 to 12 inches in Boston.
Forecasters are warning that the storm will hit hard and fast with major disruptions to travel and even travel shutdowns, as well as shipping delays, school closings and power outages from this “blockbuster” storm, AccuWeather said.
Airlines have already started issuing broad travel waivers for passengers who want to dodge the storm, forecast to be the most significant winter storm in several years, by leaving earlier, later or canceling their trip altogether. Airlines issue waivers and proactively cancel flights so they don’t strand passengers and planes.
The destinations covered, travel dates and other fine print vary by airline and are likely to change with the storm’s projected path and severity. For now, passengers covered are those due to fly Wednesday or Thursday.
Note that passengers with nonrefundable tickets are not eligible for a refund unless the airline cancels your flight. However, travelers are eligible to cancel their flight and receive credit toward a future flight and won’t have to pay onerous ticket change fees, even on basic economy tickets.
Thinking of changing your flight to another day or time this week or early next week if it is covered by the waiver? Don’t dawdle. Rebooking options, already limited by airline flight cuts due to the pandemic, dwindle as more passengers scramble to change their plans. Complicating matters: the first batch of holiday travelers will take off this weekend.
Most airlines allow passengers to change their flights online.
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