By Keith Still
Well it’s Groundhog Day, again. And for Americans this year, that must mean there’s another winter storm throwing a monkey wrench in their travel plans from Dallas to Dover. At this rate, we might feel lucky if there are only six more weeks of winter weather to endure.
Yesterday, a “life-threatening” storm grounded one-fifth of all scheduled U.S. flights as blizzard conditions, snow and ice storms began covering much of the country, affecting 30 states and ultimately as many as 100 million people. Tornadoes, freezing rain, snowfall measured in feet, not inches…these are all problems gumming up the works for weather-weary travelers at a time when we just want to see some sun, swoosh down the slopes or head out of town for the Super Bowl.
But with more than 7,000 flights cancelled since yesterday, Mother Nature, it seems, would have us suffer more of the same travel hassles we have endured throughout this unusually stormy winter. In Dallas, where football fans soon hope to begin pouring in for this Sunday’s Super Bowl game, the airport shutdown yesterday after the area was hit by not only thunderstorms and rain, but sleet, freezing rain and ice pellets.
With so many storms this winter, airlines are better navigating Mother Nature’s tempests by making decisions to cancel flights quicker and communicating with customers in a variety of ways to update them on flight status. Atlanta’s Delta Airlines, United Continental and American Airlines were among those that began cancelling flights and waiving re-booking fees two days ago to give passengers time to travel before the storm hit or decide to stay put until the storm passes. Social media notifications, along with jet-tracking technology, are also helping airlines communicate with travelers, saving the airlines money and helping limit overcrowded airports full of stranded passengers.
Travelers who dare or who must get out before the havoc of the storm passes should check these travel tips before leaving. Those who are stranded or who need to rebook a flight or hotel because of the weather can also consult this list for ways to get their money back.
Or, if you can, check out these Groundhog Day deals to destinations south of the massive snow zone in Puerto Rico. That way, even if the groundhog does see his shadow, you can relax on your hammock and look back at your snow/ice/wind-trapped friends and tell yourself this Groundhog Day 2011 was a pretty good day.
Has the winter weather affected your travel plans? Are you using social media sites like Twitter to get updates on the status of your flights or to find out about rebooking deals? What has your experience been this winter in dealing with airlines and/or hotels if you had to alter your travel plans due to snow or ice? In your opinion, are there any stand-out airlines or hotels that have handled the adverse weather conditions better than others this winter?
Are you fleeing to southern climes in the midst of this super storm?