January 12, 2011

Whoever said “let it snow” clearly wasn’t running an airline

The East Coast got slammed with snow this week — again — prompting delays and cancellations across the country. USA Today described the Southeast as “one big ice skating rink,” while snow is still falling in parts of the Northeast, with possible accumulations of up to two feet.

The sun may be shining in some places, but the winds are still frisky. As you may know, being in the business of flying planes means dealing with that tricky element called air. It’s like the old joke – can’t live with it, can’t live without it. When air behaves, it gives our jets lift. When it doesn’t behave, it grounds our fleet. Wind gusts can cause runway configuration problems, among other disruptions to service. Read more about how wind impacts operations.

But you’re not in New York, you say. You’re flying from Austin to San Francisco. It’s sunny and friendly and warm in both cities, so why should your flight be delayed or cancelled? Fair question. Because our base of operations is out of New York’s JFK, it’s possible that your flight departing from Austin originated in New York. And if we can’t get that plane out of New York to Austin, your flight from Austin to San Francisco could be affected.

Our system operations team works diligently to reduce the impact to cities outside the storm area and flights between them by shifting planes and crews ahead of time. Deicing trucks are in place, crews are ready to go, but with a large impact to our major airports at JFK and BOS those effects will still be felt to some degree across the system.

We’re offering fee waivers to change impacted flights out of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. Be sure to check back for updates on our travel advisory to see what cities are included and check your flight status before heading to the airport.

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