/Here We Go Again: Airlines Issue Travel Waivers Ahead of Another Winter Storm

Here We Go Again: Airlines Issue Travel Waivers Ahead of Another Winter Storm

Last week, more than 2,400 flights were cancelled due to a powerful winter storm. And now, another storm is developing, threatening to wreak havoc on air travel later this weekend. Airlines have already started releasing weather waivers so flexible travelers can re-book their flights to avoid the storm.

Chicago residents are waking up to record low temperatures Saturday morning, with parts as cold as -23°F. So far, the severe weather has mostly consisted of brutal cold. However, on Sunday evening, the weather is going to take a turn for the worse as a new winter storm begins to blow through:

After passing through the Great Lakes region, the storm is expected to sweep eastward and drop more than 18 inches of snow in parts of the Northeast:

Image generated by Weather Underground.
Image generated by Weather Underground.

Flight schedules haven’t been impacted yet as of Saturday morning. However, three airlines have already issued weather waivers. American Airlines, Southwest and United each have major operations at one of Chicago’s two airports, and each of these airlines has issued a waiver for these airports.

If you’re scheduled to connect through Chicago on one of these airlines Sunday – Monday (and Tuesday for United), you can use this weather alert to change your flight to connect through another airport. You also have the option to fly out Saturday ahead of the storm or delay your trip until after the storm has passed.

As of 10:20am ET Saturday, here are the weather waivers issued so far:

In This Post

American Airlines

  • Travel dates: January 27-28
  • Airports covered: Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
  • Must have purchased your ticket by January 25
  • Rebook travel anytime between January 25 – February 1
  • You can’t change your origin or destination city. Must rebook in same cabin or pay the difference.
  • Avoid the phone queue. Changes available on both AA’s website and in the AA app.

Southwest

  • Travel dates: January 27-28
  • Airports covered: Buffalo/Niagara Falls (BUF), Chicago Midway (MDW), Des Moines (DSM), Detroit (DTW), Grand Rapids (GRR), Milwaukee (MKE), Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP), Rochester (ROC)
  • Customers who are holding reservations to/from/through the cities above on the corresponding dates may rebook in the original class of service or travel standby (within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city-pairs and in accordance with [Southwest’s] accommodation procedures) without paying any additional charge.

United

Northern Plains Winter Weather

  • Travel Dates: January 27-28
  • Airports covered: Billings, MT (BIL); Bismarck, ND (BIS); Bozeman, MT (BZN); Cedar Rapids, IA (CID); Des Moines, IA (DSM); Devils Lake, ND (DVL); Dickinson, ND (DIK); Duluth, MN (DLH); Fargo, ND (FAR); Great Falls, MT (GTF); Helena, MT (HLN); Jamestown, ND (JMS); Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN (MSP); Minot, ND (MOT); Rapid City, SD (RAP); Sioux Falls, SD (FSD); Williston, ND (ISN)
  • The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing on or before ​​February 1, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.​​

Chicago Winter Weather

  • Travel Dates: January 27-29
  • Airports covered: Chicago-O’Hare, IL (ORD)​
  • The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing on or before ​​February 1, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.​​

No waivers (yet) from: Alaska, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit, Sun Country

Protect Your Travels

As we move deeper into winter, these storms are another reminder to book flights with a card that offers solid trip delay and cancellation insurance. When I got stuck in Japan for four extra days due to a typhoon, I was very grateful for Citi Prestige’s trip delay protection, which reimbursed $1,000 of our expenses from the last-minute four-day extension to our visit.

Although Citi Prestige used to be my go-to for booking flights, a recent devaluation to the card’s travel benefits knocked it out of its top spot. For now, I’m using my Chase Sapphire Reserve to book all of my flights to get 3x earnings on the airfare purchase plus solid trip protection benefits that kick in when a weather delay or cancellation stretches past six hours. Other top choices for getting solid mileage earning and trip protection when booking flights are the Chase Sapphire Preferred CardCiti / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard and the Citi Premier Card.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter here: https://thepointsguy.com/mailing-list/

Featured image by Andrew Burton via Getty Images