Airlines are waiving cancellation and change fees this weekend for travelers who might be impacted by winter storm Harper, a blizzard that AccuWeather anticipates to travel from the Midwest through New England and the Northeast, leaving up to 40 inches in some affected regions.
As of Friday afternoon, CNBC reported that airlines had already canceled 116 flights arriving and departing from Chicago on Saturday—a number that could climb as the storm progresses. With this in mind, various airlines have given customers a window to change their flight plans at no cost.
JetBlue, for example, announced on its website that it will waive cancelation, change, and fair difference fees for travelers flying out of potentially impacted airports on Saturday and Sunday. The airline posted a full list of qualifying airports, which includes hubs in New York, Boston, and Chicago. The only stipulation is that original travel must have been booked before Thursday, January 17, and flights may be rebooked through Wednesday.
Although applicable airports and rebooking dates may differ, similar waived-fee flight cancellations and changes are being offered by United, American Airlines, Alaska Air out of Boston, and Delta in the Central Plains/Ohio Valley and Northeast.
Unfortunately airports have seen no calm before the storm, as the government shutdown has led to congestion in airports across the country. This is particularly due to the fact that TSA agents, who are “essential” employees and thus required to come into work without pay, have been calling in sick at record numbers. With a diminished staff, airports across the country have been forced to cut back on terminal service and close operating security lanes.