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Hurricane Sandy: How to Cope If You’re Traveling This Week

Thousands of international and domestic flights have been canceled ahead of Hurricane Sandy, leaving millions of flyers to cope with upended travel plans as the storm heads toward land.

According to the latest update from FlightAware, more than 6,800 flights have been canceled for Sunday and Monday. Most inbound and departing flights in D.C.-area airports have been canceled for today. Additionally, all flights in and out of Philadelphia International Airport today have been suspended. Dozens of other airports in the northeastern U.S. are seeing large numbers of cancellations and delays; check your airport website for more information.

The storm has deeply impacted worldwide travel, as flyers with plans to head to the northeastern United States have been left stranded across the globe. The Huffington Posts reports that “Delays rippled across the U.S., affecting travelers in cities such as San Francisco to Chicago, and disruptions spread to Europe and Asia, where airlines canceled or delayed flights to New York and Washington from cities that are major travel hubs including London, Paris, Tokyo,  and Hong Kong.”

Don’t expect delays to end when the weather has calmed down, however. US Airways, for example, is repositioning planes away from airports near the storm; this could cause additional delays later in the week.

When bad weather significantly impacts flight schedules, airlines typically waive change fees, allowing flyers to make adjustments to their travel plans without penalty; ahead of Sandy, every airline has done so, mostly for flights in or out of the northeastern U.S. through Wednesday.

Traveling This Week? Here’s How to Cope

What should you do if you’re scheduled to fly early this week? Airline call centers have been overwhelmed with a high volume of callers, so it’s best to reschedule flights online if possible. You might also be able to reschedule through third parties like travel agencies and online travel agencies (OTAs), if you booked your tickets with one.

If your plans are flexible, don’t wait to see if your flight will be canceled before changing your itinerary. Thousands of other travelers will be competing for seats for select routes in and out of the Northeast this week, so the earlier you reschedule, the better.

Some airlines are offering full refunds for those who wish to cancel flights; others aren’t. Make sure to read your airline’s exact policy on the carrier’s website. Not every airline is offering the same contingency plan for its customers.

If you haven’t heard whether your flight has been canceled or not, set up flight-status email alerts through your airline’s website. You can also use sites like FlightAware and FlightStats, or flight-tracking apps like FlightView to monitor your itinerary.

Those stranded should grab a room as soon as possible, as hotels are filling up fast. The good news: Some properties are offering discounts for travelers seeking last-minute refuge from Hurricane Sandy. ABC News reports that Kimpton Hotels in New York City and Boston are offering 20 percent off room rates for those who book with promo code SANDY.

For more information on coping with delayed and canceled flights, read Canceled Flight? What to Do When Bad Weather Strikes.

Have your travel plans been affected by Hurricane Sandy? Tell us about it.

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