Thanksgiving Travel: Winter Storm Impacting Flights, Roads

Travel plans for those going home at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend have been complicated as a winter storm barrels the central United States. The National Weather Service says blizzard conditions have were reported in Nebraska and Kansas Sunday morning and were expected to develop in parts of Iowa and Missouri later in the day.

In its latest update, the NWS said heavy snow and strong winds will spread from the Plains across parts of Iowa, Missouri and Illinois for the rest of Sunday and into Sunday night.. The agency says dangerous travel conditions will continue with the winter storm, including snow-covered roadways and reduced visibility. The NWS advised anyone unable to complete their travel before the arrival of the snow to delay their travel plans.

The storm is also affecting air travel. According to the flight-tracking website FlightAware, over 1000 flights have been canceled within, into or out of the United States on Sunday. Major airlines, including American Airlines, United, Southwest and Delta, have issued travel waivers for passengers affected by the winter weather. A mix of rain and snow is expected to become heavy, wet snow throughout Sunday as the storm moves east through the Chicago area, impacting air travel at O’Hare.

The impacts to travel come on what is projected to be the busiest travel day for the holiday weekend. According to Airlines for America, Sunday is the busiest day for air travel with 3.06 million passengers expected to travel.

American Airlines had canceled 400 flights as of 7 p.m. central time and an additional 85 flights have been canceled on Monday. The airline also said it had reduced its operations at O’Hare Sunday evening. As of early Sunday afternoon, United Airlines said that it had pre-canceled some flights and had about 50 roundtrip cancelations but said that number will likely increase as the storm develops. Southwest said it had canceled 170 of 4,192 scheduled flights and also said additional cancelations should be expected.

“We know America is on the move today and our Meteorologists and Planners are tightly coordinating to minimize disruptions for Customers traveling today and tomorrow through a swath of airports from the Midwest to the Eastern Great Lakes,” Southwest said in a statement. “Southwest has canceled approximately 170 (of 4,192 scheduled) flights today and tomorrow expects additional cancelations and some delays.”

Delta said it has canceled 20 round trip flights due to the weather. The airline said customers can find the latest information here.

Below are the waivers being offered by airlines:

American Airlines


Travel Dates: Saturday, Nov. 24, Sunday, Nov. 25 and Monday, Nov. 26
The Offer: Passengers can make one change to travel plans without paying a change fee or a recalculated fare.
The Fine Print: Travel must be rebooked by Friday, Nov. 30, and while fees still might be waived, a new fare could apply.
More Info: Go to American’s website for details.

Delta Airlines


Travel Dates: Sunday, Nov. 25, and Monday, Nov. 26
The Offer: Same as American. Travelers can make one change without incurring a change fee or a recalculated fare.
The Fine Print: Rebooking needs to be done by Thursday, Nov. 29. And like American, a new fare might be charged, even though fees are waived.
More Info: Go to Delta’s website for details.

Southwest Airlines


Travel Dates: Saturday, Nov. 24, Sunday, Nov. 25 and Monday, Nov. 26
The Offer: Change fees aren’t charged on Southwest flights, but the airline will waive recalculated fares.
The Fine Print: Flights must be rebooked within 14 days of the original travel. If not, the credit for the unused flight can be used for future travel.
More Info: Go to Southwest’s website for details.

United Airlines


Travel Dates: Saturday, Nov. 24, Sunday, Nov. 25 and Monday, Nov. 26
The Offer: Same as waivers by American and Delta. Passengers can make a single change, and no change fees or recalculated fares will be charged.
The Fine Print: Also similar to American and Delta. Travel must be rebooked by Friday, Nov. 30, and fees may still be waived for travel after that, but a new fare may be charged.
More Info: Go to United’s website for details.

Joe Vince contributed to this report.

Photo: A traveler naps at he waits for his flight at Indianapolis International Airport in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. Photo by Michael Conroy/Associated Press

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