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Should you change your travel plans? A ‘bomb hurricane’ storm threatens Christmas travel

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When should you arrive at the airport early? It’s a question most travelers know to ask during busy holiday travel periods. Crowds of travelers, long check-in lines, congested roads, and winding security lines are some of the reasons holiday travelers should give themselves an extra hour or two to get to their gate. Airport not an hour or so earlier than usual – but maybe a full day or two. Want more airline news? Sign up for TPG’s free bi-weekly aviation newsletter. Winter weather could affect holiday travel, thanks to a massive winter storm that’s now ending and that threatens to bring treacherous weather to airports across a wide swath of the country — including many of the nation’s busiest aviation hubs. A storm — a possible “bomb hurricane,” according to The Weather Channel — was already bringing bad weather to the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday, with higher-than-usual cancellations and delays at busy airports such as Seattle/Tacoma International (SEA) and Portland International (PDX) likely. Travel disruptions are expected to worsen this week as the storm moves east in the days leading up to Christmas. Snow is forecast for much of the Great Plains and Midwest Wednesday through Thursday, with blizzard conditions and more than two feet of snow. Snow is expected in some locations. The east coast is also expected to experience a mixture of snow, ice and rain. Heavy rain and strong winds could clog busy Northeast airports, and unusually cold weather will complicate travel in the back of the storm, with temperatures dipping into the teens as far south as Houston and Atlanta. Even New Orleans and Jacksonville, Florida, are expected to see temperatures in the low 20s later in the week. This can lead to icy conditions on the roads or delays at airports that don’t get very cold very often. There are likely to be few options for travelers stranded to find new itineraries to get home before the holidays, but there are potential alternatives to just hope for the best. Major US airlines have offered flexible rebooking waivers to allow flexible travelers to change their plans to avoid the storm, when and where. Will travelers be affected? Roughly one in five Seattle flights were canceled Tuesday, and a similar number have been delayed, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. Midwest by Wednesday night before expanding into the Great Lakes region by Thursday and continuing through Friday. Heavy rain and winds were forecast along the East Coast Thursday and Friday, including at airports prone to delays in the Northeast in New York and Philadelphia. Freezing temperatures are expected in the Deep South by Thursday through Friday, and while flight delays and cancellations are a possible consequence of this weather system, the effects likely won’t be limited to air travel as drivers throughout the affected areas should prepare for it. Challenging conditions Should you travel early Whether you should change your travel plans this holiday week to leave a day or two earlier than planned depends on your travel plans and when and what type of weather is expected for your exact location(s) drivers will encounter Particularly difficult conditions developed in many areas this week, prompting the National Weather Service to warn travelers to consider adjusting their plans in light of the weather. “The best Christmas gift you can give this year is to be there for another Christmas,” the National Weather Service said in an advisory about the storm. “Plan now to delay, modify or cancel travel plans.” Air travelers also face complications, especially if their vacation plans fall short. It requires them to fly through an airport in the storm’s path.To get to their destinations before the storm hits.Travel in the Midwest and East.Flights are already full this time of year, and passengers displaced by cancellations or losses are likely to find a few empty seats on other flights. In other words, if you can be proactive and adjust your plans before many flights full of potential travelers try to do the same, you may have more options for your itinerary without paying any extra fees or fare difference. United currently has over 100 airports subject to waivers that span the country with a rebooking window that runs from December 19 to December 28, 2022. Covered dates and airports vary by airline, so check the specifics. Check with you to see if the change makes sense for your itinerary. The Bottom Line Santa may arrive in time for Christmas Eve, but for unprepared reindeer-equipped trips, this may be the year when you need to double check the weather reports and think long and hard about changing your trip plans if your current itinerary puts you in A site with unfavorable weather forecasts.

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