Coming in for the Super Bowl? You’ll need the patience of Job this weekend in Dallas.
The airports have been struggling and the terrain is treacherous. We’ve had dozens of street closures and even some rolling blackouts this week as cold, sleet and finally snow have all conspired to temporarily turn the Big D into the Big Chill.
The following is from Southwest’s website; conditions at Love Field (DAL) in Dallas as of noon today (2-4-11):
“Given the lingering winter weather conditions, there is the possibility that our Friday afternoon and evening flights to/from DAL could be disrupted (delayed, diverted, and/or cancelled).”
If you’re coming in for the big game, or traveling to any of the many cities affected by the severe winter weather – especially in the southern states – check with your airline for the latest on bad weather delays and cancelations. And dress warmly while you’re here; temperatures are going to be in the mid-40′s on game day, or so we hear.
And bear all this in mind if you’ll be attending next year’s Super Bowl – in Indianapolis.
You’ve seen the news: snow and ice in much of the nation (and I can tell you the roads in Dallas were very icy this morning).
If you’re supposed to fly today, one word of advice: don’t.
Stay home and avoid the mess at the airports:
- Take advantage of the airline “change fee” waivers: Contact your airline to reschedule your flight without having to pay the $150 change fee.
- Don’t get stuck: Being at the airport is no guarantee of quick rescheduling; a colleague’s wife who was scheduled to fly today just learned she won’t depart snowbound Scotland until Friday
Already at the airport? Contact your airline immediately. More tips:
- Multi-task communications: If your flight is canceled or delayed, immediately get in line and listen to the gate agent; at the same time, call the airline (it may be quicker)
- Use your elite miles status: If your status entitles you to a dedicated airline phone number, use it
- Follow your airline on Twitter: Airlines have staff monitoring social networks, and often respond more quickly to tweets for help than other communications
Important Note! There is a misconception that there is a federal requirement that forces airlines to provide you with hotel or meal vouchers in weather situations; there is not. Bad weather is considered outside an airline’s control. However, some airlines may offer such things as a goodwill gesture, and by all means, ask.
See more tips in my article called, Bad Weather Flight Delays and Cancelled Flights: What to Do Next?
UPDATE: Ireland’s airspace has been reopened
If you had planned to fly to or fly from Europe in the next couple of days, be patient – only an estimated 11,000 of 28,000 flights through European airspace will be operating today due to the ash from the Iceland volcano.
Please contact your airline before you head to the airport. Otherwise, you might find yourself in very uncomfortable circumstances win a crowded airport.
Iceland’s volcano, called Eyjafjallajokull, is still spewing great clouds of ash, which can mess up aircraft engines, and bring planes down. Once it stops spewing, it can continue to disrupt up flights for a period of time (no one seems sure how long).
Not all European countries are affecting by – but many are: airport closures are reported in the UK, France, Germany, Scandinavian countries and more. And other transportation modes like Eurostar which travels between London and Paris, as well as other trains and buses are filling up.
Remember, the situation is fluid – contact your airline. Many are now offering waivers on fees for changing European travel.
Meanwhile, here are some nuggets to ponder:
- Frankfurt authorities have brought in more than 1,000 cots, food, and baby supplies like diapers and more, for all the people stuck in the airport there.
- The funeral for Poland’s late president, set for Sunday, may have to be delayed because of the difficulty world leaders may face in getting there
- Two RAF bases in England, used by the US Air Force, have been shut down
Every now and then, we hear about a planeload of passengers who get trapped on the tarmac for hours and hours – something that’s supposed to end as of April 29, when the DOT implements its new “three hour rule” (which some airlines are already asking for exemptions from).
But they’re not the only travelers who get caught up in such delays.
In Scotland this week, more than 100 passengers were stuck on their train after it ran into a non-negotiable snowdrift 20 mile south of Inverness.
To add insult to injury, a second “rescue train” bringing them food and blankets, also got stuck in the snow.
The passengers were trapped on the train for about seven hours before a third train came along to take them away. The original journey was only supposed to have lasted about three hours. Wonder if those folks will begin agitating for “Passenger Rail Rights”?
At first, the pilots of the JetBlue flight heading for Long Beach figured they’d hit a flock of birds as they took off from JFK.
Birds can be dangerous – after all, that’s what forced Capt. Sully into the “Miracle on the Hudson” landing.
Turned out it wasn’t birds, though. It was hail – icy hard rocks that pelted the plane. According to the Los Angeles Times, it’s not clear if the hail did any “significant damage” – but hail can be destructive.
Just last week in Perth, Australia – the airport there was “thrown into chaos” after part of the roof collapsed at the Qantas terminal – thanks to heavy rain and hail.
Meanwhile, those JetBlue passengers were put on another plane and arrived in Long Beach just a couple of hours late.
Turbulence. It can occur on the best of flights, anytime of the year. And it can be a minor annoyance – or spill your drink all over your lap – or worse.
I delve into the subject in my latest weekly column for ABCNews.com and I learned a thing or two, including the following:
- How many people are injured by turbulence each year? Answer: nearly 60 a year, in the U.S. alone.
- Who are injured most frequently? Answer: flight attendants
- Why do people get up to use the lavatory when the seat belt sign is on? Answer: take your pick between A.) cockiness or B.) cluelessness
- What does “pancake batter” have to do with turbulence? Answer: read the column to find out
Read what a flight attendant has to say about turbulence (and she ought to know, since turbulence once left her knocked unconscious) and how something as simple as keeping your seat belt buckled can save untold misery.
Everyone called it a “nightmare” flight – AOL News did, so did TV stations, although HuffPo opted for “flightmare”.
Whatever, it wasn’t pleasant. Yes, Virgin America left LAX on time Saturday, but circled JFK for a couple of hours while waiting for fierce winds to die down. It didn’t happen, so the plane headed to Upstate New York’s Stewart Airport in Newburgh to wait out the weather. That’s when the problems began.
Passengers say they were then kept waiting — on the plane — for seven hours. They were told they could get off, but then they couldn’t get back on again if the weather cleared. Some got off anyway - the rest shared rationed food — which reportedly worked out to “four potato chips and a half cup of water each.”
Eventually, JetBlue stepped forward with a bus to take the passengers on the 80 mile drive to JFK.
Here’s what Virgin America did right: CEO David Cush started calling passengers to personally apologize, promised all a refund, and a $100 credit.
What about that new rule that “airlines-must-let-passengers-out-after-3-hours-on-the-plane”? It doesn’t go into effect until April 29.
If you’re flying in or out of the Northeast today, check out FlightStats or your airline before heading out.
We are seeing “excessive” delays in Boston (excessive = worst), but there are also significant delays at JFK, Newark, Philadelphia, Manchester, New Hampshire and to a lesser extent in Cleveland.
That area of the country got hit hard over the weekend with lashing rainstorms (some with hurricane-strength winds) and there were a lot of power outages – so – just be careful, okay?