Hurricane Sandy has closed all major airports on the east coast of the United States. Major airlines like United, Delta, USair, Southwest and Jetblue all have major connecting hub airports in these effected cities. Highways and mass transit that would normally get travelers to the airport have been closed. President Obama has signed the state of emergency declaration in the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Rhode Island and New Jersey. If you and your family have vacation and flight plans for this week...well, as they say in NYC..."Fugget About It!...you ain't goin" no place!"
Hurricane Sandy is an extreme storm of biblical proportion. Cancellations and flight delays are always a frustrating hassle. Any stop to your family's vacation plans are certainly a major disappointment. In this case, it is seriously a matter of personal safety. Obviously this is the priority at the moment, that everyone is safe and sound riding out the storm
If you do have pending flights for your family, the good news is the airlines are working with passengers. Generally if you were ticketed for flights either in or out of any of the affected airports from Oct 27 until Oct 31st, the airlines are allowing you to change your ticket without penalty fees or get a refund. At the moment, most of the airlines currently have the deadline of Nov. 4th for making flight schedule changes or requesting a refund. The situations with Hurricane Sandy is still evolving so pay attention as more dates may be added if they storm or dangerous conditions continue to linger.
IMPORTANT - Each and every airline has their own rules and particulars. At the moment, most have details posted on their websites. Often the website links for storm information or flight changes are not very obvious so you may need to hunt for them, but they are posted on all the major airline homepages. Be an informed traveler and check in directly with the airlines so that you know the rules. Read the information carefully and pay attention to the fine details for rebooking. If you have booked with a travel agent or an online travel website call them directly and they can help you navigate the changes.
Remember, this storm will effect millions of travelers so patience and a cool head will be necessary to get your travel plans or refunds sorted. Expect long waits for customer service. Bear in mind that electricity and phone service problems are also expected with this storm that could last for many days.
As mentioned earlier, major east coast hubs will be affected by this storm. If you have ANY flights scheduled over this next week, BE SURE to call the airport and double check your flights status before heading to the airport. You may be flying between two airport cities not affect by Hurricane Sandy but your airplane may be scheduled to come and get you from an airport closed by weather. For example, Vacationkids founder flew home from Cancun on Saturday to Philadelphia but her flight and crew were turning around and flying to Punta Cana on Sunday. The flight crew was anticipating that they would be grounded for several days in Philadelphia leaving their main hub in Dever short an aircraft for this whole next week.
Once again, Hurricane Sandy is an historic storm. After the worst of the storm passes by and as the airports re- open, there will still be a huge domino effect on airline schedules. Expect delays and inconveniences. The airlines will do their best to get schedules back to normal as soon as humanly possible.