Airlines Offering Fee Waivers After Winter Weather Snarls Flights

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 3.33.21 PMHigh winds and an impending snowstorm have brought a number of delays and cancellations to air travel into and out of Chicago airports today. As a result, many airlines are now offering to waive fees for travelers seeking to change their plans. 

Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports  — major hubs for United and Southwest, respectively — have seen hundreds of cancelations and delays already today, resulting in cancelations and delays at other airports around the country.

ABC 7 Chicago reports that so far 750 flights were canceled at O’Hare and 245 flights were canceled at Midway.

The Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Control Airport Status Information shows delays up to two hours and 57 minutes at Midway, and delays an average of almost five hours at O’Hare. 

The FlightAware Misery Map also has travel looking dicey in other areas of the county that receive flights from the Chicago area, including delays and cancellations in Detroit, Atlanta, Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C.

Airlines are urging travelers to check flight status before heading to the airport.

Both United and American Airlines announced Wednesday that they would waive fees if travelers would like to change their plans.

Airports included in American’s advisory include this win Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois.

United expanded their waived fee option to both the Great Lakes region for today and tomorrow, and for the Northwest region on Wednesday.

“The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new flights departing on or before Feb. 27, 2016, as long as travel is rescheduled in the same cabin and between the same cities as originally ticketed.” the airline said.

Delta Air Lines also issued a travel advisory for the lower great lakes, noting that if a customer’s flight is canceled or significantly delayed they are entitled to a refund.

Southwest said that it would allow customers with reservations today and Thursday to alter their travel plans free of charge if it is booked for the next 14 days.

The airline predicts that the hardest hit areas for its passengers will be Chicago, Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids, MI, Indianapolis, and St. Louis.

While rebooking travel plans might be in the best interest — or the only option — for some travelers, doing so might be easier said than done.

Several Southwest passengers expressed their dissatisfaction with the rebooking process on Twitter, with some having waited hours on the phone with the airline.