6 Tips for Winter Travel

How to Go Over the River and Through the Woods with Minimal Delay

By Jesse Sokolow on 15 December 2014
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While winter doesn’t officially start until this Sunday, many residents and travelers in parts of the United States may disagree. Three major winter storms, one disrupting thousands of flights over Thanksgiving, one of the year’s busiest travel weekends, have already dumped massive amounts of snow in many regions, and the pattern doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

Consequently, travelers should prepare for just about anything and everything for the upcoming holiday travel period, as a preemptive plan can make all the difference in getting to where you are going and doing so in safely.

In the past few years, airlines have started canceling flights proactively in advance of storms while offering passengers flexibility in either rescheduling flights or canceling their plans altogether.

Once flights start being canceled due to weather, there will be fewer available seats on flights still operating. Not all airlines cancel flights in unison, so it’s possible that a different carrier may still be flying to your destination.
If departures are cancelled, however, consider rail service, which is typically less affected by snow and inclement weather. Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor service, which runs from Boston to New York to Washington, has a better record in severe weather than the Delta and US Airways shuttles to the same destinations.

Here are some tips for minimizing delays and avoiding risks when weather-related problems arise during travel.

1.) Travel to Your Destination Early

If you have to be somewhere on a specific day, don’t leave anything to chance. Plan to arrive at least one day early. If you’ve already booked your flight, you may be able to reschedule, especially once the airlines start to issue travel waivers allowing changes or cancellations without incurring penalties. It is common practice for many airlines to encourage early travel or postponing same.

2.) Consider Not Going

If a winter storm is imminent, stay put. This past winter, especially during a snowstorm last Christmas season, many major U.S. airline waived change fees and other restrictions for travelers affected by severe weather. If you find you cannot make it to the airport due to the weather and it’s close to departure time, check online to see if the airline has issued a waiver.

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