Saturday, January 23, 2016

How the Snowstorm Is Affecting Travel

How the Snowstorm Is Affecting Travel
How the Snowstorm Is Affecting Travel
The winter storm forecast to hit the East Coast from Washington, D.C., through New England this weekend is already scrambling travel plans, as more than 6,000 flights were canceled and more than 4,500 were delayed, according to FlightAware. Airlines, ground transportation providers, hotels and attractions are all adjusting their schedules and policies. The following is what’s happening so far.
Air Travel

Flights to and from Philadelphia International Airport have been canceled on Saturday. Washington Dulles International does not expect any flights in or out on Saturday either.

Most airlines are encouraging passengers slated to travel this weekend to rebook rather than wait out a cancellation at an airport. To do so, they are waiving the normal fees for booking changes. Passengers whose flights are canceled are entitled to a refund from their carrier.

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American Airlines has canceled more than 700 flights today, including all operations out of Charlotte, N.C., because of “the expected half inch of ice and snow accumulations,” said Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for American.

The carrier plans to cancel all operations in the Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia airports tomorrow. All American Eagle operations will be canceled Saturday at the New York area’s three airports: La Guardia, Kennedy and Newark. Operations for the mainline carrier there will be halted after late-morning departures Saturday and resume Sunday.

“The best plan we can have is to remove aircraft from all impacted areas,” Mr. Feinstein said. “That way we can restore operations as quickly as possible when the weather clears.”

American is waiving fees for ticket changes at affected airports from Jan. 21 to 24, and will refund fares on canceled flights.

Delta, United, JetBlue, Southwest and others have announced fee waivers for rebooking in select cities Jan. 22 to 24.

The all-business-class airline La Compagnie, which flies between Newark and Paris and Newark and London plans normal operations this weekend but is allowing passengers who wish to change their flights to do so between Jan. 22 and 27 without change fees.

Amtrak plans to operate a modified schedule in the Northeast this weekend. Most service between Washington and Boston will operate normally on Friday. Among cancellations, the Cardinal train from New York to Chicago is canceled for Saturday, and the Crescent from New York to New Orleans will not operate Friday or Saturday. Other cancellations will be listed on Amtrak’s website; its refund and exchange policy is found here.

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Megabus has canceled many East Coast routes for Jan. 22 and 23 and says it has notified affected travelers via email. Passengers booked on Megabus this weekend can log onto the site with their reservation number, email address and credit card used to make the booking to determine if their trip is canceled.

Greyhound plans to cancel service as of noon Friday between New York and Washington, Philadelphia and Norfolk, Va.; Philadelphia and Washington and Pittsburgh; Washington and Richmond, Va., and Pittsburgh; Richmond and Fayetteville and Charlotte, N.C., and Knoxville, Tenn.; Columbus, Ohio, and Charlotte; Baltimore and Atlantic City; and Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Passengers will be rebooked on the next available bus once service resumes.

While hotel airports are likely to fill with stranded passengers, hotels in some affected areas are reacting to the storm with deals. The Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va., is offering all in-house guests a rate of $99 a night to stay past their scheduled departure in order to avoid travel during the storm.

In Washington, the Jefferson hotel is offering 20 percent off room rates Jan. 22 to 24. And the Embassy Row Hotel, a Destination Hotel, is offering rooms for $99 a night, including Wi-Fi, to those using the booking code JONAS.

In New York, the Loews Regency Hotel is offering a special snow rate from $229 a night on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights (book using the code SNOW to get the deal). The hotel will entertain guests in-house with games available in the bar, coloring books and crayons for children and adults, cocktail deals and two loaner sleds for guests to use in Central Park. The hotel has had about $15,000 in cancellations over the past two days.

More staycation incentives from Sixty SoHo hotel: 25 percent off rates this weekend.

The Gregory hotel in Herald Square and the Renwick in Midtown are waving cancellation fees this weekend and are offering extended checkouts, extra blankets fireside in the lobby and free hot cider on Saturday and Sunday.

More deals in New York include: The Hyatt Times Square is offering 15 percent off rooms today until Sunday by using this link and signing up for My Hyatt loyalty program. Rates start at $144. The Royalton near Bryant Park is offering rooms from $199 with free Wi-Fi, late checkout and complimentary cocktails (use the booking code SNOWDAYSANCTUARY).

In Arlington, Va., the Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City is offering weekend rates from $189 including parking, breakfast for two and in-room movies. The Ritz-Carlton Washington, D.C. is offering rooms from $249.

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In Boston, the XV Beacon is offering 15 percent off rates this weekend.

Marriott International is waiving fees for all weather-related cancellations. Still, travelers are better off informing their hotels and asking for a fee waiver rather than letting the automatic penalty for a no-show to kick in.

Virgin Hotels in Chicago issued the following statement: “Our general policy is that if you let us know that you need to cancel, no sweat. But if you don’t let us know, then there is a charge of one night of your reservation rate plus tax.”

In Washington, national park visitor facilities overseen by the National Capital Regional Office, including sites on the National Mall, President’s Park at the White House, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia and along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, closed at noon Eastern Friday. The Washington Monument, like others on the National Mall, will be closed until at least Monday, Jan. 25, and will not be staffed by rangers, though U.S. Park Police will be on duty. Restrooms around the National Mall will also be closed.

Arlington National Cemetery will be closed to visitors Saturday and Sunday. Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial, closed Friday morning and will remain closed through Sunday.

In New York, attractions such as the One World Observatory are currently operating normally, but visitors are urged to check their websites for updates.

Per Broadway tradition, the shows are going on. “We will post additional information on as it becomes available. For information about exchanges, theatergoers should contact their point-of-purchase and should check the individual show websites for specific information about their show,” wrote Elisa Shevitz, director of communications for the Broadway League, in an email.


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