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Snowstorm hurts airline travel in Midwest, Northeast

12:40 PM, Jan 2, 2014   |    comments
Jetliners are de-iced before take-off from Cleveland Hopkins Airport in Cleveland, as a dusting of wintry snow delayed flights.(Photo: J. David Ake AP)
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A major snowstorm in the Midwest is bearing down on the Northeast and threatens to snarl airline travel for days.

Already Thursday morning, airlines canceled 1,342 flights and delayed 1,775 flights, according to, which tracks flights.

Airports suffering the worst by 11 a.m. are Chicago O'Hare, which had 409 cancellations; Newark, which had 280 cancellations; and Cleveland, which had 207 cancellations, according to FlightStats.

"There will be travel problems," said Hugh Johnson, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Albany, N.Y. "It will be very cold."

Airlines have begun to waive change fees for travelers changing their plans. Airlines suggest checking with their websites for details about specific flights.

American Airlines, for example, is offering changes to flights Thursday and Friday with options through Sunday for flights in and out of Boston, Buffalo, Harrisburg, Hartford, all three airports in the New York City area, Philadelphia, Rochester, Syracuse and Westchester.

United and JetBlue are also waiving change fees for a slew of airports in the Midwest and Northeast. United's waivers extend from Milwaukee through Chicago and across the Northeast. JetBlue's advisory extends from Pittsburgh to Washington and up to Boston.

"Delays and cancellations as a result of slowed traffic in and out of our Eastern cities are likely," said Tamara Young, a JetBlue spokeswoman. "So we want to make sure our customers have options available to them."

The snowstorm will reach across 20 states with more than 120 million people during Thursday as it moves from the Midwest to the central Appalachians and New England on Friday, according to the forecast.

The storm is projected to bring 6- to 12-inch snowfall beginning in northern Pennsylvania and upstate New York to a large part of New Jersey and New England. Between 12 and 18 inches of snow will fall in localized areas of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Blizzard conditions with strong winds and low visibility are expected from New York City to Boston, according to AccuWeather.

Because the three airports in the New York City area are important hubs for airlines, flight cancellations and delays could ripple across the country.

Contributing: The Associated Press.

Bart Jansen, USA TODAY

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