3500+ Flights Cancelled Due To Winter Storms

Filed Under: Advice, Travel

As the projected severity of the winter storm in the Northeast increases, most domestic airlines in the US have either cancelled flights, or issued waivers for travel over the next few days.

A bit of snow (much less a blizzard) can cause systemwide disruptions, so if you’re scheduled to travel in the coming days you’ll want to take precautions.

Delays are starting to pile up, and many airlines have preemptively canceled flights for tomorrowAt the time of this writing there are over 3,000 canceled flights, and many delayed flights between today and tomorrow. A few examples of pre-emptive cancelations for Tuesday:

  • Southwest has canceled 884 flights
  • JetBlue has canceled 616 flights
  • American has canceled 600 flights
  • United has canceled 459 flights

Delta, thus far, has only canceled 44 mainline flights, which seems brave. We’ll see how that goes.


In general, the airlines are going to accommodate you if you’re able or willing to move your plans around — after all, they don’t benefit from having cranky passengers stuck in the terminal either. There are nuances to each policy though, so you can see the individual policies on the airline sites:

Ultimately though, if you’re flying to or through the Northeast today or tomorrow you want to stay on top of the situation, and get in touch with your airline ASAP.

Tips for rebooking

Regardless of the reason for flight cancelations, phone queues can get ugly fast. Given that many people need to rebook at the same time, you might be able to get new plans confirmed more quickly by using an alternate method.

Try the club lounge

If you’re already at the airport, start with the lounge agents. They tend to have fewer passengers to deal with than the gate agents, and thus may have more time (and more patience), when it comes to rebooking your flight.

Reach out on social media

I’ve had good luck changing flights by sending direct messages to American via Twitter. Several other airlines have a Twitter presence as well, and while they might not be able to fix your reservation, it’s worth trying:

Avoid the domestic call centers

If you’re willing to spend a few dollars on Skype or Google Voice credit, calling the international call center for an airline can often save you an hour or more of hold time.

Almost all of these call centers have an English-speaking option, but you can also call Australia, where I understand the weather is nice today, or even just Canadian numbers can get you through faster.

¿Hablas Español?

If you have a rudimentary understanding of Spanish (like, just enough to get through the computer system), you can try the Spanish-speaking numbers. Again, fewer people calling means shorter hold times, and the agents typically speak English as well.

  • American Airlines Spanish line: 1-800-633-3711
  • Southwest Spanish line: 1-800-VAMONOS
  • United Airlines Spanish line: 1-800-426-5561

Be your own advocate

This is maybe more a life philosophy than one specific to travel disruptions, but it holds true — no one cares about you (or your travel) as much as you do.

So be nice, but ask questions, present alternatives, be prepared to book your own hotel rather than waiting in line with a hundred other people for a voucher, and so forth.

If you stand around and wait, you will almost certainly have a worse time than those who are actively finding solutions to the situation.

Check your credit card coverage

If you purchased your tickets with a credit card, you may have some additional protection and benefits when your flight is delayed. Check with your credit card company, or see our list of popular travel cards with good delay coverage.

These cards will often cover your hotel, or the cost of a new flight, and so forth, so it’s good to know both the benefits and the requirements to file a claim.

Bottom line

As I said last time we had a major storm, you want to be as proactive as possible in these situations. Pay attention to your flight, along with the status of your inbound aircraft, and be prepared to react quickly and creatively.

If you have plans to travel, I’d suggest rebooking now, as it looks like cancelations are only going to increase. Keep in mind that even if you aren’t traveling in, to, or through the Northeast corridor, your aircraft might be, so you could still be impacted by this storm.

This isn’t a situation you can control, but you can lessen the impact on your life. The best thing to do is pay attention, and be as proactive as you can.

Anyone else flying tomorrow? What’s your plan?

  1. @Tiffany, for American flights booked using TY points, should I call American or Citi if my intent is to cancel the domestic round-trip itinerary?

  2. @ JL — In theory it shouldn’t matter how you paid for the ticket, and American should be able to help. In practice, and as you want to cancel, I’m not sure how they could process a refund for you in this case. It’s going to show as an agency ticket on their end, so that could limit refund options.

    I would start with Citi, I think, and see how it goes.

  3. @JL – Not 100% sure about the exact situation, but I can say that American seems to be super accommodating with refunds today. Called this morning (waited more than an hour to get through on the Platinum line), and they refunded my scheduled round trip from LaGuardia tomorrow without a question, even though the flights hadn’t been cancelled (yet).

  4. Flew from Brazil and now I’m at JFK for a layover. My flight to Toronto tonight was cancelled. I flew business and would be flying first now. I have nowhere to stay here, Should delta accommodate me on their expense?

  5. @Gustavo, airlines generally don’t accommodate when it’s due to weather, but if you bought the airfare using a credit card, depending on the card and how long you end up being delayed, you may get reimbursement for meal, lodging, etc.

    Which card did you buy the airfare with?

  6. It’s very true re calling international call centers. I live in France and when I call the French UA #, i get someone immediately. I dread calling them from within the US bc it always takes 25+ mins and the agents are generally not the best…

  7. I agree with the need to be proactive and creative. Years ago, when I was heading home for Christmas from Orlando to London Heathrow (via JFK) on Delta Airlines, followed by a flight from London Heathrow to Singapore on Singapore Airlines, I was stranded at JFK as my connecting flight had departed for London Heathrow, while I was stuck on the tarmac for over 3 hours after arriving from Orlando. This was due to a snow storm. The situation was chaotic, as it was only 3 days to Christmas, and everyone at the airport was desperate to get home. Instead of queuing at the Delta rebooking desk, I decided to roam around the JFK terminal looking for a Delta representative who could help me. I spotted one who was assisting a couple, who was visibly desperate to fly out too. When I approached her and explained my situation, she immediately bypassed the system to issue me a business class boarding pass on the first available Delta flight to London Heathrow. I was out of JFK in 12 hours, and made it home for Christmas!

  8. @Gustavo -Na minha experiencia, sim! I was flying first from LA to Kansas and the flight was delayed, therefore making me miss my connection. They put me up in a hotel & all for 4 hours and rebooked me & my connecting flights for the first ones in the morning. I was flying United. Depends on the airline. Boa sorte!

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