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United, Delta cancel 650 flights as new storm menaces fliers

9:16 AM, Nov 7, 2012   |    comments
A United plane takes off from Newark Liberty International airport on Aug. 11, 2012, in Newark, N.J. (Photo: Mel Evans, AP)
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"Here we go again."

That's likely to be a common refrain among air travelers this week a new coastal storm already has begun to make a mess of air travel at some of the nation's busiest airports - and at many of the same ones that were snarled during Sandy.

Just like they did with Sandy, most big airlines are again waiving fees for customers booked into cities likely to be affected by the storm. Generally, the weather waivers allow customers to make one change to their itinerary -- with restrictions -- with no fee.

As for flight operations, United Airlines - the nation's biggest carrier - has canceled 500 flights between noon Wednesday and noon Thursday as the mid-Atlantic braces for a strong "Nor'easter" winter storm.

Delta, the USA's No. 2 airline, says it had canceled 150 flights today, with spokesman Morgan Durrant adding that the carrier is "monitoring conditions closely" as the storm develops. Delta says most its cancellations are concentrated in New York -- where it has hubs at both LaGuardia and JFK -- and Philadelphia.

US Airways, which operates one of its biggest hubs at Philadelphia, has canceled a total of 36 mainline and regional flights so far today. Airline spokesman Todd Lehmacher says will likely increase at the airport if the Federal Aviation Administration enacts a ground delay program -- which seems likely, given the forecast conditions.

As for some of the cancellations details, United announced late Tuesday (Nov. 6) afternoon that it "will suspend most service to and from the New York area between noon Wednesday, Nov. 7, and noon Thursday, Nov. 8."

FLIGHT TRACKER: JIA arrival & departure times

So far, about 500 flights have been canceled Wednesday and Thursday because of the "Nor'easter," United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy says in an e-mail to Today in the Sky.

United operates one of its busiest hubs at Newark Liberty. At that airport, United says that "between noon Wednesday and noon Thursday, (it) intends to operate its long-haul international flights and flights to and from (its) other hubs, but will suspend most of its remaining services."

United also plans to suspend "all services" at LaGaurdia and JFK airports beginning noon Wednesday and lasting at least through noon Thursday.

United hopes to resume operations at all three airports by noon Thursday. Even if it does, the cancellations already announced by the carrier will affect travelers at scores of the airline's destinations.

And, as it did during Sandy, United is waiving change fees for most customers ticket to fly through the New York area between now and Thursday.

Delta also is waiving rebooking fees for many fliers scheduled to fly though the New York and Philadelphia airports today through Thursday.

American, JetBlue and US Airways are among other airlines waiving fees ahead of the latest storm. All three operate a big hub in the storm's impact zone.

Other airlines with Nor'easter-related waivers: Southwest, AirTran, Virgin America, Frontier, Air Canada and Porter Airlines.

USA Today

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