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Midwest winter storms bring snow, sleet, freezing rain, and altered travel plans

Written by editor

As many as 21 states are under some type of winter weather watch, warning, or advisory in what appears to be a repeat of the Midwest blizzard that struck December 8-9.

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As many as 21 states are under some type of winter weather watch, warning, or advisory in what appears to be a repeat of the Midwest blizzard that struck December 8-9. An all out blizzard is in store for central Kansas, eastern Nebraska, eastern South Dakota, southern Minnesota, and western Iowa where as much as a foot and a half of snow could fall with wind gusts over 50 mph. This will paralyze many cities from Omaha, NE to Minneapolis, MN. Meanwhile, those in eastern Iowa, southern Wisconsin, and northern Illinois will experience a mixture of snow, sleet, and freezing rain making for hazardous driving. Overall, it’s going to be a mess with millions to be affected. Updates were received from the following airlines:

AirTran Airways
Passengers scheduled for travel December 24 and December 25, 2009, on AirTran Airways to/from: Bloomington/Normal, Chicago (Midway) and Moline/Quad Cities, Illinois’ Kansas City, Missouri; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Wichita, Kansas; may change their reservation, beginning December 22, 2009, without penalty as long as travel is completed within five days from the date of the original scheduled departure date, based on space availability without fees or fare adjustments.

Passengers holding reservations for travel to/from these destinations should check www.airtran.com under “Flight Status” for updates or call 1-800-AIRTRAN (247-8726).

Continental Airlines
Customers scheduled on flights to, from, or through affected airports Wednesday, December 23, through Friday, December 25, 2009, are permitted a one-time date or time change to their itinerary without penalty. If a flight has been canceled, a refund in the original form of payment may be requested. Complete details are available at continental.com.

The fastest and most convenient way to change travel plans is via continental.com. Customers should enter their confirmation number and last name in “Manage Reservations.”

Customers may also call Continental Airlines reservations at 800-525-0280 or their travel agent. Continental.com provides an overview of Continental operations, as well as up-to-date information regarding the status of specific flights. Automated flight status information is also available at 800-784-4444.

Delta Air Lines
Customers booked on flights operated by Delta, Northwest Airlines, or Delta Connection carriers to, from, or through the following states from December 22-27 may make a one-time change to their travel schedule without fees if tickets are changed by December 27, 2009.

– Illinois
– Indiana
– Iowa
– Kansas
– Michigan
– Minnesota
– Nebraska
– North Dakota
– South Dakota
– Wisconsin

Delta will proactively reduce flight schedules to and from affected airports to ensure delays are minimized during the storm. However, customers may wish to consider postponing or rerouting their trip without penalty to avoid possible inconvenience.

Travel for changed itineraries must begin by January 1, 2010 and changes to origin and destination may result in a fare increase. Any fare difference between the original ticket and the new ticket will be collected at the time of rebooking. Customers whose flights are cancelled may request refunds.
Delta also has extended its winter travel waiver for customers whose travel plans were affected by last weekend’s record-breaking snow storm on the US east coast. Delta customers who were booked on flights between December 18 and December 26 to, from, or through Baltimore; Boston; Greensboro, NC; Lynchburg, VA; Newark, NJ; New York (LaGuardia and JFK); Philadelphia; Raleigh, NC; Richmond, VA; Roanoke, VA; and Washington, DC (Dulles and Reagan National) may make a one-time change to their travel schedule without fees if tickets are changed and new travel begins by January 1, 2010.

Complete details and the latest flight updates are available at delta.com and nwa.com.

Jetblue Airways
JetBlue Airways Corporation will waive change fees and fare differences to allow customers booked to travel to, from, or through Chicago Wednesday, December 23 and Thursday, December 24 to voluntarily rebook their travel through December 25, due to inclement weather forecasted to impact the region.

Customers may rebook their travel online at www.jetblue.com anytime prior to their originally scheduled departure. To check on the status of flights or to check the availability of alternate flights, customers are encouraged to log on to www.jetblue.com or to call 1-800-JETBLUE (538-2583) for the latest flight information.

All customers booked for travel to/from Chicago are encouraged to check the status of their flight online at www.jetblue.com prior to leaving for the airport. Customers with web-enabled cell phones and PDAs may check the status of their flight via mobile.jetblue.com .

United Airlines
United Airlines is encouraging customers ticketed for travel December 22-27 to, from, or through the region – particularly the airline’s Chicago hub – to consider rebooking their itineraries and traveling early, as inclement weather may drive delays or cancellations on Wednesday, Thursday, and Christmas Day.

United strongly encourages customers to make use of the customer information tools available at united.com, including:

– Flight status confirmation and notification, with updates to departure and arrival times sent via email or to a mobile device
– The ability to confirm and/or rebook an existing reservation
– Online check-in, which enables customers to print a boarding pass for a departing flight or view options if a booked flight has been canceled due to weather

Customers without access to united.com may also book a new reservation, change an existing reservation, or get flight status via United reservations at 1-800-UNITED-1.

United strongly urges travelers, particularly those whose flights have been canceled due to weather, to visit united.com or to call reservations before going to the airport.

Additionally, United urges travelers flying to, from, or through the mid-Atlantic and northeast to take advantage of the airline’s travel waiver, as certain change fees have been waived for them.

Customers may make changes to their itineraries via united.com or by calling United reservations or their travel agencies. All changes must be made by midnight of the customer’s original travel date. Rescheduled travel may be subject to higher fares if it does not meet original rule and booking-code restrictions or is a new itinerary.

The revised ticketing policies apply to all tickets purchased December 22, 2009, or earlier, for travel December 22-27, to, from, and through Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin on any United, United Express, or United code-share flight. Origin and destination cities must remain the same and rescheduled travel must be completed within seven days of original travel date.

Customers with canceled flights are eligible for a full refund. United will continue to monitor the weather situation and adjust ticketing policies on united.com.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.