JP Pritchard

Thousands of Flights Grounded Ahead of Northeast Blizzard

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Thinkstock (NEW YORK) — The 2013 winter storm expected to pound areas of the Northeast with as much as two feet of snow this weekend is snarling travel in the Northeast.

As of early Friday morning, 3,400 U.S. flights have been cancelled through Saturday, according to flight tracking service FlightAware. There are about 30,000 commercial flights per day nationwide.

That number is expected to increase throughout Friday and into the weekend.

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Leading the way in cancellations for Friday flights are the three New York City-area airports. Newark Liberty International Airport so far has 284 cancellations, John F. Kennedy International Airport has 207 and LaGuardia Airport has 232.  Boston’s Logan International Airport had nearly 200 and Toronto Pearson International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport had more than 100 each. These numbers represent flights originating at these airports.

Amtrak has announced they will suspend rail service in the Northeast as of Friday afternoon. Southbound service out of Boston will end at about 2 p.m. Northbound service from New York City will end at 1 p.m.

Greyhound has delayed and cancelled routes from as far south as New York City to as far north as Montreal, Canada.  Popular discount bus company Bolt Bus has cancelled all operations on Friday between Boston and New York and Boston and Philadelphia.  Megabus has also cancelled many Northeast routes.

Travelers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a refund for the unused portion of their trips.  Airlines have issued waivers enabling travelers to change their travel plans without incurring change fees. Change fees are typically $150 but vary from airline to airline.

Airlines in particular have become more proactive in recent years about cancelling flights ahead of storms.  Instead of waiting until the last minute to cancel flights and in turn stranding travelers at airports, airlines now plan in advance to keep people away from airports as much as possible.

However, any costs a traveler incurs from being stranded — meals, hotels, etc. — are theirs alone to deal with.  Airlines are not required to house travelers in hotels in the case of bad weather.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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