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Thanksgiving Travel Delays Due To Storms And Cancellations: Here’s How To Avoid Them

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An estimated 55 million will be traveling this Thanksgiving, and the last thing anyone wants getting in the way of their turkey plans is trip disruptions. AccuWeather’s experts have warned that there are some developing storms across the U.S. that could impact travel around the holiday time.

From heavy rain to strong winds and accumulating snow, the weather is expected to spread eastward, with major hubs including Chicago, Atlanta, and New York affected. With 49 million choosing roadways and 4.5 million getting to their destinations via air, incremental weather could only add to the delays that often come with this kind of mass travel.

Woman standing in front of departures board at airport canceled flight

Storms have the potential to delay or cancel flights and can be most impactful in areas where there are major hubs that act as transfers for many passengers. With flight cancellations and disruptions being a regular occurrence lately, with reports of thousands of delayed flights a day during the past summer, passengers have taken to placing financial bets on which airline and airport will have the most canceled flights.

Flight Delay

What Areas Could Be Impacted?

AccuWeather meteorologists predict a storm is moving into the Pacific Northwest that will bring rain and mountain snow today.  Seattle and other parts of western Washington will receive most of the rain, with the Washington Cascades and the northern Rockies expecting around a foot of snow.

“This part of the storm will pack most of the energy needed for the bigger storm to form later in the week,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bill Deger said.

The storm will then move through to the Plains on Wednesday, where it will bring light snow to parts of Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas. By mid-week, forecasters predict a large storm could develop over the center of the country.

“Thunderstorms packing torrential downpours could make for a soggy Turkey Day in cities such as Lake Charles and New Orleans, Louisiana, and Jackson, Mississippi,” Deger said. “Meanwhile, snow showers could make for make for a wintry scene and slick roads in parts of the Upper Midwest.”

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Girl checking flightboard

The mid-Atlantic and Northeast should expect to have dry conditions prior to the holiday, but this might change after Thanksgiving, with meteorologists believing that the weather will begin to deteriorate. Areas from Washington D.C. to Boston and Western New York may receive rain and will further impact areas that have already received heavy snow.

Expect delays sign

How Can I Minimize Trip Cancellations And Disruptions

  • Monitor The Weather: it’s important to monitor the weather at your origin, travel path, and destination since weather can dramatically shift last minute. If it looks like the weather will likely impact your travel plans, you can quickly react and update your plans.
  • Download Your Airline’s App: ensure that you have flight notifications set up and make sure you are manually checking your flight status, so you can act swiftly if there are any changes made.
Airline apps
  • Move Your Flight To Another Day: if it looks like the weather will likely impact your flight, see if you can change your flight a day earlier so you won’t be frazzled and up against the clock to make your Thanksgiving plans. It was reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Aviation Consumer Protection in May 2022 that between 84% and 95% of flights scheduled before 7 am ended up departing on time, so when available try to rebook on the earliest flight. It’s best to book a direct flight to minimize transfer delays, and where you do need to connect, ensure that you’ve allocated plenty of time to account for any delays when transferring.
  • Minimize The Travel Disruptions You Can Control: lost luggage is a travel nightmare and can turn vacation excitement into a hassle very quickly. With Chicago O’Hare and American Airlines being some of the largest offenders for lost checked luggage, it’s recommended to carry your luggage in the cabin to avoid any mishaps that could create further delays for your trip.
Cabin luggage
  • Know The Airlines and Airports That Are The Biggest Culprits for Flight Delays: American Airlines has the worst record for cancellations, while Allegiant, Jet Blue and Southwest Airlines had the most flights delayed by 15 minutes, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics report for July 2022. Meanwhile, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O’Hare, and Denver International airports all had the highest percentage of cancellations. If you can expect which airlines and airports will give you a disruption, you can build this into your Thanksgiving itinerary and plan accordingly to make sure you’re not missing the most important moments.
  • Know Your Cancellation Rights: a relatively unknown law requires airlines to refund passengers on canceled flights. Make sure you are familiar with your rights and how the airline will compensate you. Travel Off Path has covered this tip here.

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