Just days before Christmas and at the height of the holiday travel season, a fierce winter storm bringing with it blizzard conditions and freezing temperatures is predicted to hit the United States.
The US National Weather Service predicted a “powerful winter storm to produce a multitude of weather hazards across the central and eastern United States through the end of the week.”
The federal meteorological agency further predicted that the weather could drop 20 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius) or more within a few hours. Meteorologists predicted this could set up a “bomb cyclone” defined by Merriam-Webster as “a powerful, rapidly intensifying storm associated with a sudden and significant drop in atmospheric pressure.”
Travelers: a severe weather storm is on its way. Get the inside scoop on how it may affect your flight. We're on #WinterWeatherWatch, check with your airline & get general airport delays at https://t.co/smgdqK4EkL. Get more details at https://t.co/teUeDdJFyX. #FAAWeatherSquad pic.twitter.com/LkFq0PFD7Q
— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) December 21, 2022
The storm is predicted to cause disruptions to travel by car and by air starting the morning of December 22.
What to do if you plan to travel
If you’re planning to or within the United States in the coming days, there are a few things you should do to prepare for the storm. First, if you have the flexibility to change your flight, many of the airlines are already offering change waivers that will allow you to do so without incurring any extra fees.
Next, make sure your contact information – both email address and phone number – is updated on your reservation with your respective airline.
Consider downloading your airline’s app which can not only help give you the most current information on your flight but also allow you to rebook quickly from the airport if your flight gets canceled. Also, consider downloading a hotel booking app in case you need to book a hotel room quickly.
Before you leave for the airport, check the status of your flight. It’ll be easier and more comfortable to make calls to rearrange your plans from your home or hotel rather than a seat behind security.
Finally, make sure you pack in your carry on everything you would need if your flight gets canceled or your checked bags get delayed. That means medicine, car and house keys, a change of clothes, toothbrush, toothpaste, phone charges – anything you would need if you were without your luggage for 24 hours (or more).
What to do if your flight is canceled
If your flight is canceled or delayed due to weather, you may have very few consumer rights or options since this is considered something outside the airline’s control.
Once you learn your flight is canceled though, don’t just wait in line at the ticket counter to rebook. While you’re standing in line, use your airline’s app or try calling in to get faster service.
If you need to stay in that city overnight, you’ll want to immediately use a hotel or booking app on your phone to try and locate a room quickly. With many large aircraft full of people searching for rooms, you’ll roll the dice if you try to physically go to the hotel first. Use the app to see availability and book.
You may not get much help in terms of reimbursement for expenses if the cancellation is due to weather. However, check the card you booked with to see if they offer any reimbursement for expenses you incur should your trip be disrupted.