Flights delayed, airlines allowing rebooking as storms affect holiday travel
Winter weather, storms could snag holiday air travel.
Seattle Times travel writer
Weather conditions here and around the country are expected to make air travel more difficult starting Friday, predicted to be the busiest day of the holiday season at the nation's airports.
Some arriving flights were being delayed this morning at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport due to snow and ice. Weather at other airports affected other arrivals. There were departure delays of up to several hours, and cancellations into Spokane, Las Vegas, Walla Walla, Portland, Vancouver BC and other destinations.
Several airlines are offering customers the option to reschedule flights during the next few days due to storms in the Northeast region of the United States, but with planes expected to be nearly full on some days, finding an open seat could be difficult.
Continental Airlines said that customers scheduled to travel to, from, or through affected airports, including its New York hub at Newark Liberty International Airport, could postpone or reroute their trip without penalty.
The airline is allowing customers booked on flights in affected areas a one-time date or time change to their itinerary without penalty through December 26. Details at www.continental.com .
United Airlines offered similar waivers for flights through New York, Philadelphia, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. See www.united.com.
Southwest Airlines was giving customers with travel booked to or from Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Louisville, Omaha the chance to rebook within 14 days of their original date of travel.
Affected Alaska Airlines passengers scheduled to fly in and out of Seattle through Friday can reschedule travel through Tuesday with no penalties, or get a refund.
For passengers who arrive at the airport late and miss their flights, the airline offers same-day standbys at no extra charge. Passengers who think they might be late can call ahead and ask to be put on the standby list.
Sea-Tac officials expect 98,000 passengers at the airport Friday and 95,000 on Saturday, Dec. 27, expected to be the second busiest travel day. Planes will average 90 percent full on those days, according to the Air Transport Association.
Travel will be easier if you plan ahead.
• Confirm your flight well ahead of your departure time. If there is a problem, try to rebook over the phone. Sign up for your airline's flight status alert service or make sure your reservation contains a phone number where you can be reached. The Port of Seattle lists arrival and departure times on its Web site, www.portseattle.org/seatac.
• Get to the airport two hours before your flight (three if traveling internationally).
Keep in mind that airlines are not required to compensate passengers for damages when flights are delayed or canceled due to weather. Compensation is required by law only when you are bumped from a flight that is oversold.
• If your flight is canceled, most airlines will try to find you a seat on their next flight. Or you can ask for a refund, or ask whether another carrier has seats and for your airline to endorse your ticket to that carrier.
"Our goal is to get them where they need to be," said Marilee McInnis at Southwest. "We look at schedules and see if we can get creative with our routings. If they are going between Las Vegas and Seattle, for instance," maybe we can go Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle."
• Be prepared. Bring a snack onboard make sure your cellphone is fully charged.
Carol Pucci: email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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