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 The Brancatelli File

joe FRANKENSTORM

BY JOE BRANCATELLI

11/8/12, 8PM ET, THURSDAY
STORMY WEATHER: THE HIGH COST OF CLOSING HUBS

We talked last week about the airlines arbitraging travel waivers to generate a few extra bucks. So, in fairness and post-election bipartisan harmony, here is what the airlines say is the other side of the story. United Airlines announced yesterday (November 7) that its hub closures and cancellations for Sandy depressed revenue by about $90 million in October and may result in a $35 million profit hit. Delta Air Lines says that its October revenues were $45 million lower thanks to Sandy-related costs and the storm would take a $20 million bite out of profits. While this week's Nor'easter disruption--FlightStats.com says 1,593 flights dumped on Wednesday and 773 scrubbed today (November 8)--won't be as costly, it won't be a happy line on November results. Separately, over at American Airlines, the early-October pilot-related problems and the Sandy disruptions led to a huge hit on per-passenger revenue (PRASM). It rose only four-tenths of a point for the month, far off the 3.5 percent increase from October, 2011, that American had expected.

11/7/12, 5:45AM ET, WEDNESDAY
THE EAST GOES DOWN...AGAIN

Good morning! A brief note to let you know that American Airlines has joined United Airlines in hub closures today into tomorrow due to the Nor'easter bearing down on the MidAtlantic and Metro New York area.

American said late last night that it would close its Philadelphia operations by about noon today and end its New York flights by 3pm. As you recall, United announced last evening that it would suspend most of its New York-area flights at about noon today. Both airlines say they will resume mid-day tomorrow.

Delta, US Airways and JetBlue, which all have substantial New York/Philadelphia operations, have not announced specific closure plans. However, they are showing cancellations, too. According to FlightStats.com, more than 700 flights have already been cancelled today, most at the New York and Philadelphia area airports.

Meanwhile, Amtrak is still off-schedule in the Northeast as a result of SuperStorm Sandy, so expect some delays there, too.

All of the airlines have travel waivers posted at their respective Web sites. Most are allowing you to change flights scheduled through tomorrow for alternates through mid-November.

11/6/12, 8:30PM ET, TUESDAY
AND NOW A NOR'EASTER

Sorry to interrupt your Election Day voting and viewing, but I wanted to bring you up-to-date with the developing Nor'easter that is bearing down on the area from Philadelphia to Connecticut. All of the major airlines serving the region have issued travel waivers for the next few days. Check your carrier's home page for more specifics.

But the big news: United is shutting down most flights at Newark, New York/Kennedy and New York/LaGuardia beginning at noon tomorrow. According to United, flights from JFK and LGA will stop about noon on Wednesday and service won't resume until noon Thursday. At Newark, United says it "intends to operate its long-haul international flights and flights to and from the airline's other hubs, but will suspend most of its remaining services." This sorta open/sorta closed stance starts at noon tomorrow (November 7) and will last until noon Thursday (November 8).

This will force you to check carefully for both your originating flight, the equipment it uses and any possible connections. If you're scheduled to go out of Newark tomorrow on the evening bank of Europe flights, check carefully to see if your equipment arrives from Europe on Wednesday morning. If it doesn't, your flight might cancel even though United generically says it will run international service.

Other carriers are not, at least publicly, being as draconian as United. However, a lot of flights are being proactively cancelled. FlightStats.com has already recorded 380 cancellations tomorrow in the United States, the vast majority in the Northeast's major airports. About two-thirds of the cancellations are from United, American and their commuter carriers.

11/1/12, 10:30PM ET, THURSDAY
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT

After scurrying for hotel rooms twice last year during the storms that hit the vast JoeSentMe worldwide headquarters, I planned ahead this time: I reserved accommodations (and precious desk space and Internet access) in advance at a nearby Hampton Inn. I checked in before the storm to ensure that I wouldn't be "walked" when the inevitable post-chaos scramble arrived.

Thankfully, this time the rooms weren't needed. The third time was the charm. Others in my part of New York's Hudson Valley weren't so lucky, however. As I walked through the lobby, I saw the now far-too-familiar tableau: bedraggled folks with coolers and plastic bags full of clothing; folks milling in the lobby, a bit dazed and confused; and, of course, hard-bitten business travelers like you and I walking briskly and no doubt wondering how these "amateurs" found their way here.

But I saw something else, something I also noticed last year at my hotel during Hurricane Irene and our freakish Halloween blizzard: The kids were all right.

And why wouldn't they be? School is cancelled. And, metaphorical or real, a "snow day" is, as Mayor Quimby of Springfield once said, "the bestest day of the year." Besides, hotels have pools. Indoor pools. And what's better than a pool when you really should have been in school?

Then there's the pizza. With the power out, pizza from gas-fired ovens is often the only hot sustenance available to families and entire communities during a storm-driven power failure.

Snow days and pools and pizza, oh my! It's the recipe for perfection when you're a kid and your family has just unexpectedly checked into a hotel for a stay of indeterminate duration.

I watched a few families in the lobby of the Hampton Inn Fishkill on the day after Superstorm Sandy hit.

The lobby-level pool, surrounded by glass walls that dulled the squeals of delight but not the view of the action, was filled with happy kids splashing and jumping and engaged in what grumpy parents of another era would surely have called "horseplay." Not too far away? Lobby tables and chairs turned into a makeshift dining room. They were occupied by kids munching on pizza fresh out of delivery boxes. They were chomping and smiling and stretching mozzarella and having a great old time.

Sure, their parents' faces showed the stress of homes without power and maybe waterlogged basements. Sure, the adults were worn down by the region's third, abandon-your-home storm in just 14 months.

But the kids? The kids were all right.

I don't even mind that a billing snafu has (at least temporarily) deprived me of my Hilton HHonors points for my stay-that-wasn't-but-I-paid-for-anyway. Kids don't care about frequent-stay points. And why should they? They've got snow days and pools and pizza!

11/1/12, 10PM ET, THURSDAY
TWENTY-THOUSAND CANCELLATIONS AND GROWING

Ever so slowly, airports in the Northeast are beginning to get back to normal. So consider this the metaphoric score in the approximate top of the eighth inning: 20,055 cancellations from Saturday (October 27) through most of today. According to FlightStats.com, the daily count has been: 152 cancellations on Saturday; 1,501 on Sunday, October 28; 7,977 on Monday, October 29, the day the storm finally hit; 6,562 on Tuesday, October 30; and 2,989 cancellations on Wednesday, October 31. Another 873 flights have been scrubbed so far today. If you're looking for a graphic representation, consult the rolling "heat map" of cancellations that FlightStats created. It's here--in all of its schedule-busting, life-changing glory.

11/1/12, 6:30PM ET, THURSDAY
SO IT IS NEW YORK'S FAULT

The New York-Philadelphia air space is supposedly the cause of half of the nation's flight delays. So what happens when New York's commercial airports (Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark), Metro New York's corporate jetport (Teterboro) and Philadelphia International are down for the count due to Frankenstorm? You guessed it. Nationwide on-time performance skyrockets. According to FlightStats.com, 85.66 percent of the nation's flights operated on-time on Monday, October 29. On Tuesday, 86.71 percent of the nation's flights ran on-time. And yesterday, when the five airports remained mostly closed, FlightStats.com says the rest of the nation ran 88.15 percent on-time.

Okay, so it is New York's fault. But defer your anger until we get the water out of the subways and the lights back on. We'd appreciate your patience. And it's not like you're not used to waiting on us ...

10/31/12, 7:15PM ET, WEDNESDAY
LAGUARDIA OPENS TOMMOROW, MORE TRAVEL WAIVERS

Dear JoeSentMe member: A quick note to update you on the state of affairs at New York's airport and its crippled ground-transportation network. I've also got an updated travel-waiver chart.

First, the big news: LaGuardia Airport will open at 7 am ET on Thursday, November 1. Delta Air Lines, the largest carrier there, says it will operate 50 percent of its schedule at LGA tomorrow. That sounds awfully aggressive and I doubt other airlines will do as well.

Delta, a large player at Kennedy, says it will have operated 50 percent of its schedule there today. (JFK opened at 7am ET today.) JetBlue Airways says it'll operate about 25 percent of its flights at JFK today. American Airlines is also slowly restoring its network. The vast majority of flights operated by international carriers at JFK are also scrubbed today. I would expect it'll be Monday before JFK returns to normal.

As for Newark, which also opened today at 7am, flights are being restored slowly. But we've heard not a word from United Airlines, the hub carrier there. United also has been silent on Twitter and Facebook as to its plans. FlightStats.com shows that United has cancelled 255 of its 313 scheduled takeoffs and landings today. Assume it'll be Monday before Newark is at 100 percent. Based on what United has going in there tonight, I can't imagine more than a third of United's Newark flights will run Thursday.

Terminal services at the three airports are limited. Don't expect many concessions to be open. Many car-rental kiosks are closed, too. The problem? Lack of employees, many of whom depend on New York's crippled transit network. Some extremely limited subway service resumed this afternoon in New York. A single, truncated commuter line is working. Most of the services operated by New Jersey Transit remain down, too.

For more information on ground transportation, surf to http://www.mta.info/ For updated airport conditions, surf to http://www.airportinfoalerts.com/recentmessages.aspx

Huge chunks of the metropolitan area continue to be in the dark and it may take another seven days to get the power fully restored. Many traffic signals are out and roads became congested today. Weirdly, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says Sunday's New York Marathon will be held. Because, you know, New York needs 30,000 runners in the streets, too...

An updated travel-waiver chart is below. Airlines that offer heavy service into Metropolitan New York have created separate waivers for the three New York airports. They have also extended their original waivers for other airports in the Northeast.

PUBLISHED AIRLINE TRAVEL-WAIVER POLICIES

AIRLINE

WHERE?

ORIGINAL

FLY BY

LINK FOR POLICY DETAILS

United

27 airports

Oct. 28-Nov. 1

Nov. 7

http://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/travel/news/Pages/travelnotices.aspx

United

NY airports

Oct. 30-Nov. 3

Nov. 9

http://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/travel/news/Pages/travelnotices.aspx

Delta

NY airports

Oct. 29-Nov. 1

Nov. 9

http://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/flight_status_updates/advisories/east_coast_storm/index.jsp

Delta

NY Airports

Oct. 29-Nov. 7

Nov. 7

http://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/flight_status_updates/advisories/east_coast_storm/index.jsp

American

22 airports

Oct. 28-Nov. 1

Nov. 7

http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/travelAlerts.jsp

American

NY airports

Oct. 31-Nov. 7

Dec. 20

http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/travelAlerts.jsp

US Airways

44 airports

Oct. 28-Nov. 1

Dec. 20

http://www.usairways.com/TravelCenter/Advisories.aspx

US Airways

7 airports

Nov. 2-Nov. 7

Dec. 20

http://www.usairways.com/TravelCenter/Advisories.aspx

Southwest

15 airports

Varies

N/P

http://www.southwest.com/html/advisories/swa_travel_advisory_20129261351263421217.html

AirTran

11 airports

varies

varies

http://www.airtran.com/weather/default.aspx

JetBlue

11 airports

Oct. 28-Nov. 4

Nov. 14

http://www.jetblue.com/JetblueAlerts/WeatherUpdate.aspx

Hawaiian Air

JFK

thru Nov. 8

Dec. 14

http://www.hawaiianairlines.com/notification/pages/hurricane-sandy.aspx

Frontier

8 airports

Oct. 29-Nov. 1

Nov. 14

http://www.flyfrontier.com/flight-info/weather

Virgin America

5 airports

Oct. 28-31

Nov. 10

http://virginamerica.com/news.do?int=news_0000_ab

Alaska Air

4 airports

Oct. 29-Nov. 1

Nov. 3/7

http://www.alaskaair.com/content/travel-info/before-your-trip/travel-tips/travel-advisories.aspx

Spirit Airlines

6 airports

varies

Nov. 14

http://www.spirit.com/Content/Documents/en-US/Press_Releases/20121031a.pdf

As of 7pm, October 31, 2012 N/P = No policy posted



10/31/12, 12:45AM ET, WEDNESDAY
A HALLOWEEN MIRACLE!

It's a Halloween miracle! New York is getting two airports, Newark and Kennedy, open at 7am on Wednesday.

To say outbound flights will be limited or nonexistent tomorrow morning and afternoon is an understatement. Airlines got almost all of their planes out of the New York area before Sandy hit, so they'll have to fly aircraft into the airport before they can operate any service.

What's it mean? If you are scheduled to EWR or JFK tomorrow, your flight might get in. That includes the late-morning/early afternoon bank of international flights from Europe into JFK. I then would expect some scheduled late-night departures from JFK to operate. A few special "relief" flights may also be added.

JetBlue Airways, the biggest domestic player at Kennedy, says it hopes to operate about 25 percent of its JFK schedule on Wednesday. Delta had previously said it had expected to fly in some aircraft on Wednesday night for a Thursday restart from JFK, its big international hub. British Airways is showing everything out of JFK cancelled Wednesday except for its 11:55pm departure. Lufthansa hopes to run a few flights tomorrow, too.

Over at Newark, if you are scheduled to fly into EWR late afternoon/evening, your aircraft might go. That'll give Newark's big player, United, a chance to start ramping up some outbound service starting on Thursday, November 1. United has made no official announcement about its schedule, however. (Gee, what a surprise, United not telling us anything...)

Needless to say, it'll be the weekend before JFK and EWR carriers get back to anything like a normal schedule. And with several thousand JFK/EWR flights cancelled from Sunday through Wednesday, you'll be hard-pressed to find seats unless you're already holding reservations. Whatever is empty will likely be filled with reaccommodated passengers.

By the way, ground transportation to/from the airport may be tricky. At Newark, for instance, the on-site gasoline station remains closed and all rental-car outlets except Avis are closed. Or so says the Port Authority, which operates Newark, JFK and LaGuardia. And several key road tunnels remain closed, including the Midtown Tunnel that links Manhattan and Queens; the Holland Tunnel, which links lower Manhattan and New Jersey; and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel that connects Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Don't expect all in-terminal services to be operating, either. Many simply won't have staff available to open normal hours or to open at all.

LaGuardia? Still closed and, by some reports, quite messy. There may still be standing water on some runways and taxiways.

Final note: Check with your hotel again and don't assume your reservation can be honored. A few hotels are without power--just like everything below 39th Street in Manhattan and huge parts of the other boroughs. And one hotel, Starwood's Le Parker-Meridien, was evacuated due to its proximity to the dangling crane that received worldwide publicity.

10/30/12, 7:45PM ET, TUESDAY
NEW YORK IS A NO-FLY ZONE

The Northeast is slowly coming to life, but New York remains a no-fly zone.

Flight service around the area is bouncing back, fastest at Boston/Logan and the Washington areas. On Wednesday, US Airways says that it will resume flying at its Philadelphia hub.

But New York's two major airports, LaGuardia and Kennedy, remain effectively closed. So does Newark. Delta claims it will begin flying into the airports before a resumption of service on Thursday (November 1). Several international airlines also claim their late-night departures from JFK or Newark will operate tomorrow. Be skeptical.

What's the problem at the New York Airports? Public transportation, mostly. If there's no public transit, the airlines probably can't get enough workers to the airports to maintain operations. And public transit remains essentially a no-go in New York Metro. Although some buses are now running in New York City, the subway system remains closed. The commuter lines remain closed. None are expected to open tomorrow, mostly because tunnels are flooded or damaged and/or tracks remain obstructed. In Connecticut, many of the overhead lines that provide power are down.

The Port Authority, which operates the three airports, also has a Website outage. It's only public communications is via Twitter at https://twitter.com/PANYNJ

Roads in the New York Metropolitan Area, New Jersey and Connecticut are mostly open. So are bridges. But only one tunnel into Manhattan (the Lincoln Tunnel) is operating. Bottom line: Driving to or from the Metropolitan Area isn't a great idea.

Amtrak says that it will resume limited service in the Northeast Corridor tomorrow. However, the service will terminate at Newark Penn Station because there are no working tunnels into New York's Penn Station. Beginning tomorrow, there will also be limited service on other trains along the East Coast. For more details, check Amtrak's Facebook page.

Thinking of doing New York travel via corporate jet? Forget that, too. Teterboro, which services corporate jets, is also closed.

That's it for today, other than to report that FlightStats.com says there have been 17,000 flight cancellations since Saturday due to the storm.

10/30/12, 8AM ET, TUESDAY
POWERLESS AND (MOSTLY) FLIGHTLESS

Just a quick update on the status of things as we reach the tail end of this storm that currently has about 7 million without power due to rain, floods, storm surge, fires and, believe it or not, snow. The storm was so large it covered areas from Maine to North Carolina and from the East Coast into Ohio.

New York Metro is a mess. Don't expect any flights today at any of the area's airports. Boston is in better shape and some flights will resume there today. Hartford/Bradley expects flights there to resume this afternoon. Washington/Dulles and Washington/National are open and flying should resume there sometime this afternoon. Philadelphia Airport is open, but no flights running from US Airways, the hub carrier. Baltimore-Washington is open, but few flights will operate. United, the hub carrier at Cleveland-Hopkins, has suspended operations until 3pm and most other airlines have cancelled flights, too. Pittsburgh Airport is open and operating. TF Green in Providence is open and a few flights are now running. Manchester Airport in New Hampshire is open with heavy cancellations. The airport in Albany, New York, is open and flights may resume around noon.

On the ground, Amtrak in the Boston-Washington Corridor is down. SEPTA in the Philadelphia area is closed. MBTA says service is resuming on most routes in Boston. WMATA in Washington is closed at least through this morning. In New York/New Jersey/Connecticut, mass transit is down and may be down for days.

There is a blizzard in West Virginia, the western parts of Virginia and Maryland and southern Ohio. More than two feet of snow has fallen in some parts of West Virginia since yesterday.

Most airlines have extended their travel-waiver policies for travel until November 7. Lots of luck finding seats.

Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines Flight 24 from Seattle to Boston took off on time at 10:30pm PT last night. It arrived 45 minutes late this morning at Logan.

10/29/12, 11:45PM ET, MONDAY
PLAYING CHICKEN AT LOGAN TONIGHT

You don't need me to tell you that former Hurricane Sandy is creating havoc around the East Coast and dumping several feet of snow in West Virginia.

But I thought this would make for an interesting late-night diversion. At Boston/Logan, there hasn't been an arrival since around noon today, when a JAL flight from Narita and a Virgin Atlantic flight from Heathrow snuck in. Yet Alaska Airlines says it is going to run Flight 24 tonight from its Seattle hub to Boston. The redeye flight is scheduled to leave at 10:30pm PT, but has already been delayed an hour.

Nothing like playing chicken with a once-in-a-generation storm. ...

Oh, by the way, virtually nothing is going to run tomorrow in the East. Delta says it may try to start operations late on Tuesday, but with some airports now closed with flooding, it's hard to say if or how many flights Delta (or any carrier) can actually operate. Virtually all international flights tomorrow have been scrubbed.

10/29/12, 12:15PM ET, MONDAY
TRAVEL? START THINKING WEDNESDAY

Here's a logical assumption: There's very little likelihood of any substantial movement in the Northeastern/MidAtlantic skies until Wednesday afternoon.

As this weird triple storm--blizzard on the Western fringe, Nor'easter in the middle and a 90-mile-an-hour hurricane at the eastern edge--continues to amble its way around the area, it's time to be rational about our travel plans. If you can defer your travel until next week, do it. If you can't, I don't expect any real flying tomorrow. Wednesday will be make-do, which leaves Thursday and Friday as catch-up days. And that's the best-case scenario, in my opinion.

If you're traveling internationally tomorrow with a flight from the East, your options are already all but gone. I doubt any European airline will try moving a Tuesday morning bank of flights to the Eastern United States. That means no Tuesday night flights to Europe. And the Asian carriers, who must make their decisions even earlier for their longer-haul flights, have already wiped away Tuesday operations.

Need to get overseas? Head north to Toronto and see if there are seats via YYZ. Or head west and look for nonstops from Chicago, Detroit, Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta or elsewhere.

Think I'm kidding? Besides today's 7,000 cancellations, FlightStats.com has already racked up more than 1,500 cancellations for Tuesday. As I mentioned late last evening, American Airlines has already scrubbed its Tuesday schedule from many Eastern cities.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia has closed SEPTA, its mass-transit system. MBTA says Boston's mass-transit system closes at 2pm. New York/New Jersey/Connecticut transit has been closed since last evening. Some tunnels and other vehicular crossings are closing, too. There are already reports of serious flooding from Virginia to New Jersey and heavy snows in West Virginia and Western Virginia.

And watch for this storm to start impacting Midwest hubs such as Chicago/O'Hare, Chicago/Midway, Cleveland and Detroit starting Wednesday. I'm no weather expert, but the storm's pressure is in the low 940s and that seems to freak the weather geeks. They say it indicates a longer and more drastic storm than they were predicting.

The most recent travel-waiver policies from the carriers are below. There have been some adjustments, but I expect the airlines will have to expand their reaccommodations later today for much of the rest of the week.



PUBLISHED AIRLINE TRAVEL-WAIVER POLICIES

AIRLINE

WHERE?

ORIGINAL

FLY BY

LINK FOR POLICY DETAILS

United*

29 airports

Oct. 28-31

Nov. 4

http://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/travel/news/Pages/travelnotices.aspx

Delta

16 states

Oct. 29-31

Nov. 4

http://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/flight_status_updates/advisories/east_coast_storm/index.jsp

American

22 airports

Oct. 28-31

Nov. 4

http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/travelAlerts.jsp

US Airways

44 airports

Oct. 28-31

Nov. 7

http://www.usairways.com/TravelCenter/Advisories.aspx

Southwest

13 airports

Oct. 29-30

N/P

http://www.southwest.com/html/advisories/swa_travel_advisory_20129261351263421217.html

AirTran

7 airports

Oct. 29-30

Nov. 13

http://www.airtran.com/weather/default.aspx

JetBlue

10 airports

Oct. 28-31

Nov. 10

http://www.jetblue.com/JetblueAlerts/WeatherUpdate.aspx

Hawaiian Air**

JFK

thru Nov. 4

Nov. 11

http://www.hawaiianairlines.com/notification/pages/hurricane-sandy.aspx

Frontier

6 airports

Oct. 29-31

Nov. 7

http://www.flyfrontier.com/flight-info/weather

Virgin America+

5 airports

Oct. 28-31

Nov. 10

http://virginamerica.com/news.do?int=news_0000_ab

Alaska Air++

4 airports

Oct. 29-31

Nov. 3

http://www.alaskaair.com/content/travel-info/before-your-trip/travel-tips/travel-advisories.aspx

Spirit Airlines

4 airports

Oct. 28-31

Nov. 7

http://www.spirit.com/Content/Documents/en-US/Press_Releases/20121026a.pdf

As of 11:45am, October 29, 2012 *United's published policy includes an offer of refunds for delays longer than two hours. **Must complete reticketing by Nov. 1 +Can cancel for credit for travel within one year ++Must complete ticketing by Oct. 31 N/P = No policy posted

10/28/12, 11:45PM ET, SUNDAY
AMERICAN AIRLINES SHUTS IT DOWN IN THE EAST

This is more confirmatory than breaking news, but American Airlines and American Eagle have shut down operations at eight East Coast airports. Effective at 10pm ET, American shut down operations at Washington/Dulles, Washington/National, Baltimore-Washington, Philadelphia, Newark, New York/Kennedy, New York/LaGuardia, Hartford and Norfolk. American says it "may resume [flying] in some cities" on Wednesday, October 31.

10/28/12, 8PM ET, SUNDAY
HURRICANES AND BLIZZARDS AND CANCELLATIONS, OH MY!

As expected, more and more airlines, both domestic and international, are canceling flights now. In fact, some are expanding on their pre-announced cancellations. Here's what's come in during the last few hours.

US AIRWAYS No flights at Washington/National, Philadelphia or the three New York airports on Monday (10/29). It has also suspended operations tonight in New York. The airline extended its travel-waiver for rebooking until November 7.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES New York/LaGuardia, Newark and Islip flights stopped at 7pm ET this evening. Baltimore/Washington, Washington/Dulles and Philadelphia service shuts down at 10pm. Washington/National, Boston, Hartford and Providence flights stop by 8am tomorrow morning. Southwest has no flight resumption dates.

BRITISH AIRWAYS Nice of BA to tell us so late that it had cancelled on New York-bound flights today. On Monday, BA won't run anything to/from New York, Baltimore, Washington, Boston and Philadelphia. The only exception: Flight BA238 from Boston to Heathrow.

LUFTHANSA All flights to/from Germany and Washington, Newark, New York and Boston are cancelled Monday. JFK-Germany flights are also cancelled on Tuesday, October 30.

AER LINGUS Flights to/from New York/JFK and Dublin and Shannon cancelled on Monday. Aer Lingus is also offering waivers on New York and Boston flights scheduled until October 31. You can rebook until November 30.

AIR FRANCE Air France now says it will cancel all operations at Washington, New York/Kennedy and Boston tomorrow.

TURKISH AIRLINES has cancelled six flights between New York/JFK and Istanbul tomorrow and Tuesday.

ALITALIA has cancelled six flights between New York/JFK and Rome and Milan tomorrow.

KLM has dumped six flights to/from Amsterdam from New York and Washington tomorrow.

AMTRAK ended Northeast Corridor and Pennsylvania service at 7pm. Virtually everything else along the East Coast and many other routes will stop on Monday morning.

According to FlightStats.com, around 1,350 domestic flights have been cancelled today with nearly 3,200 delays. On Monday, FlightStats has already logged more than 3,800 cancellations.

And just to show you how weird this storm is: While the East Coast worries about hurricane-induced heavy rains, winds, power outages, flooding and storm surges, a blizzard warning has been posted for more than a dozen counties in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. It's already snowing in some of those places.

10/28/12, 2:15PM ET, SUNDAY
A TRAVEL WASTELAND IN THE EAST

As expected, the airlines are canceling flights in huge bursts now, especially for tomorrow.

For tomorrow, JetBlue has already dropped almost 250 flights. As mentioned earlier, United is pulling out, too, dropping about 1,000 flights between mainline and commuter operations. American Airlines is showing 340 cancels and 200 or so more at its American Eagle commuter operations. (Those numbers all from FlightStats.com) And Delta Air Lines just announced via Twitter that all flights out of Philadelphia and New York-area airports tomorrow are cancelled.

I would expect most international airlines to follow the lead of Cathay Pacific and Air France and cancel operations to/from East Coast cities on Monday.

Now this via Amtrak's Twitter feed: All Northeast Corridor (Acela and other trains between Boston and Washington) service is cancelled tomorrow. All Keystone Service in Pennsylvania will be down, too.

New York's transit system will start closing down this evening at 7 pm ET. New Jersey Transit begins closing at 4pm ET. Most of the commuter and mass-transit links in New York and New Jersey will be dark by midnight. States in the MidAtlantic and New England are beginning to announce school and government office closures. Atlantic City casinos have been ordered evacuated by 4 pm ET. (Many tracks now forecast the storm to make landfall at or near Atlantic City.)

So, basically, the East Coast will be out of business tomorrow. We'll see what the weather brings on Tuesday, but it won't be pretty.

And, of course, the phone lines are jammed at the airlines. When you can get through, agents are offering you rebooking on flights that have already been cancelled. They're not being tricky, it's just that the airline systems simply don't talk to each other. Which once again points out the lunacy of these close-in rebooking requirements. (Most airlines want to you use your tickets by Sunday, November 4.) They drive too many people to overwhelmed call centers and inaccurate Websites just because the revenue management departments think they can control passenger behavior. But, in fact, they can't even control their own carriers' activities. It's another example of airlines being too clever by half--or even more than half. And they wonder why we despise their actions.

10/28/12, 10AM ET, SUNDAY
CANCELLATIONS ARE PILING UP

The latest travel-waiver policies from the airlines are below. There are some adjustments as the carriers realize they can't shoehorn you into changing travel to fly during much of this week.

Cancellations are now piling up. According to FlightStat.com's superlative status page, the carriers have now dumped more than 700 flights today (October 28) and around 1,200 tomorrow (October 29). The vast majority of those cancellations come from United Airlines and its commuter carriers. Expect the numbers to rise dramatically as other airlines begin their mass schedule scrubs.

A word about United here. As I mentioned last night, in the past, the Continental part of the airline routinely closed the Newark hub during hurricanes, blizzards or other big weather issues. Travelers loved or hated the policy, but at least they knew exactly what was happening.

As befits this current iteration of United, however, it isn't being anywhere near as definitive about Newark and Washington/Dulles. Which means travelers get the worst of both worlds: Masses of flights are pre-emptively cancelled, but some others continue to be on the schedule. Until the weather does dump them, too.

This is how United puts it: "On Monday, the airline is limiting or suspending service at several airports in the region, including at its hubs at Newark Liberty International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport. United expects to resume service on Tuesday with selected cancellations, weather permitting."

What the hell does "limiting or suspending" mean? That's not helpful to anyone who needs to use EWR or IAD. United seems to want credit for acting boldly without making the bold calls it made in the past. That leaves many travelers in limbo, which is where United's actions in recent months shows it thinks flyers belong.

On the other hand (ain't there always?), United's competitors are playing chicken with the storm. We know massive cancels are coming, yet they continue to make believe nothing is going to be dumped tonight, tomorrow and Tuesday. That's no more helpful than United's kinda-sorta-maybe hub closures.

Air France has proactively cancelled its arrivals and departures from New York/JFK and Washington/Dulles on Monday. If you are flying them October 28-31, they are offering a waiver for changes until November 4. British Airways has a travel-waiver policy for travel until October 31. Cathay Pacific is canceling flights to/from Hong Kong and Vancouver into New York/JFK.

Amtrak is canceling trains. Check http://www.amtrak.com/alerts for latest details. The mass transit/commuter rail networks in the Northeast may be closing on Monday. We'll be hearing complete details from mayors and governors in the next hour or two. In New York, the subway and commuter rail networks will close starting at 7 pm tonight.

Finally, a reminder: JoeSentMe's Twitter/Website page lists the communications channels for airlines and airports. You can view it and bookmark it here: http://news.biztravelife.com/twitter.html And, of course, we have useful tools in the Current Conditions section on the right side of the JoeSentMe.com home page.

If you don't have to fly to/from the East in the next few days, the annoyance and disruption you avoid will be your own.

PUBLISHED AIRLINE TRAVEL-WAIVER POLICIES

AIRLINE

WHERE?

ORIGINAL

FLY BY

LINK FOR POLICY DETAILS

United*

29 airports

Oct. 28-31

Nov. 4

http://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/travel/news/Pages/travelnotices.aspx

Delta

16 states

Oct. 29-31

Nov. 4

http://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/flight_status_updates/advisories/east_coast_storm/index.jsp

American

22 airports

Oct. 28-31

Nov. 4

http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/travelAlerts.jsp

US Airways

44 airports

Oct. 28-31

Nov. 4

http://www.usairways.com/TravelCenter/Advisories.aspx

Southwest

10 airports

Oct. 29-30

N/P

http://www.southwest.com/html/advisories/swa_travel_advisory_20129261351263421217.html

JetBlue

10 airports

Oct. 28-30

Nov. 4

http://www.jetblue.com/JetblueAlerts/WeatherUpdate.aspx

Hawaiian Air**

East Coast

thru Oct. 31

Nov. 4

http://www.hawaiianairlines.com/notification/pages/east-coast-travel-alert.aspx

Frontier

6 airports

Oct. 29-31

Nov. 7

http://www.flyfrontier.com/flight-info/weather

Virgin America+

5 airports

Oct. 28-31

Nov. 10

http://virginamerica.com/news.do?int=news_0000_ab

Alaska Air++

4 airports

Oct. 29-31

Nov. 3

http://www.alaskaair.com/content/travel-info/before-your-trip/travel-tips/travel-advisories.aspx

Spirit Airlines

3 airports

Oct. 29-31

Nov. 7

http://www.spirit.com/Content/Documents/en-US/Press_Releases/20121026a.pdf

As of 9:30am, October 28, 2012 *United's published policy includes an offer of refunds for delays longer than two hours. **Must complete reticketing by Nov. 1 +Can cancel for credit for travel within one year ++Must complete ticketing by Oct. 31 N/P = No policy posted



10/27/12, 11:45PM ET, SATURDAY
UNITED AIRLINES STARTS THE CANCELLATIONS

At least one carrier, United Airlines, has begun mass cancellations ahead of Frankenstorm.

According to FlightStats.com, United has already dumped more than 150 flights on Sunday (October 28). Monday (October 29) will be worse and United has already scrubbed more than 350 flights. Most of the cancellations are at its Washington/Dulles and Newark hubs. United's commuter carriers are also dumping flights in bunches. In the recent past, when it was run by Continental Airlines, the Newark hub was completely shut down in advance of big snowstorms or other weather "events." So more--much more--may be on the way.

Other airlines have not yet followed United's lead. But we'll know more about the state of the system in the next 12 hours or so.

Meanwhile, Amtrak has begun canceling trains from Miami to New York and some runs in between. You can see what Amtrak is planning here: http://www.amtrak.com/service-alerts-and-notices By the way, don't expect Amtrak to be a reliable alternative to flying in the days ahead. If winds take down power lines and trees fall on tracks, Amtrak seizes up faster than airlines cancel flights.

Also, be aware that mass-transit systems in the East Coast's major cities are mulling closures in advance of the storm.

Plan accordingly. Regardless of whether this storm matches the hype, we're in for several tough travel days to and from the East Coast and the MidAtlantic.

10/27/12, 3:15PM ET, SATURDAY
WAITING FOR FRANKENSTORM

A quick update on the state of preparations for Frankenstorm, the hurricane-cum-Nor'easter that is heading up the U.S. East Coast and is expected to make landfall sometime Monday. Please examine the current chart (below) of airline travel-waiver policies. There are changes and additions, including from Delta, Southwest, Alaska and Hawaiian Air.

As you can see by checking the current conditions page at the invaluable FlightStats.com site, there's not much movement by the airlines to cancel anything tomorrow.

I would expect the biggest problems for travelers to be Monday afternoon into evening for domestic flights and Tuesday for international service. My guess is that the airlines hope to get their first banks of flights into and out of Eastern cities on Monday morning, then begin canceling stuff later Monday. The carriers would prefer not to have their aircraft in harm's way in the East if they can help it. That means getting planes out of the hubs sometime on Monday with the evening banks cancelled.

Internationally, I think Tuesday could be the bad day because airlines might choose not to run their Tuesday morning departures to the U.S. East Coast. That means there'll be no aircraft available for U.S. departures from East Coast cities on Tuesday evening.

Again, this is conjecture matched up with meatball meteorology. So if you're flying to/from the East next week (or planning to), pay close attention. It's going to be an extremely fluid (not to mention rainy) situation.

If you want to track the storm directly, here's the U.S. Weather Service site that will serve you best: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/index.shtml

PUBLISHED AIRLINE TRAVEL-WAIVER POLICIES

AIRLINE

WHERE?

ORIGINAL

FLY BY

LINK FOR POLICY DETAILS

United*

29 airports

Oct. 28-31

Nov. 4

http://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/travel/news/Pages/travelnotices.aspx

Delta

8 states***

Oct. 29-31

Nov. 4

http://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/flight_status_updates/advisories/east_coast_storm/index.jsp

American

22 airports

Oct. 28-31

Nov. 4

http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/travelAlerts.jsp

US Airways

44 airports

Oct. 29-31

Nov. 4

http://www.usairways.com/TravelCenter/Advisories.aspx

Southwest

8 airports

Oct. 29-30

N/P

http://www.southwest.com/html/advisories/swa_travel_advisory_20129261351263421217.html

JetBlue

10 airports

Oct. 29-30

Nov. 1

http://www.jetblue.com/JetblueAlerts/WeatherUpdate.aspx

Hawaiian Air**

East Coast

thru Oct. 31

Nov. 4

http://www.hawaiianairlines.com/notification/pages/east-coast-travel-alert.aspx

Frontier

6 airports

Oct. 29-31

Nov. 7

http://www.flyfrontier.com/flight-info/weather

Virgin America+

5 airports

Oct. 28-31

Nov. 10

http://virginamerica.com/news.do?int=news_0000_ab

Alaska Air++

4 airports

Oct. 29-31

Nov. 3

http://www.alaskaair.com/content/travel-info/before-your-trip/travel-tips/travel-advisories.aspx

Spirit Airlines

3 airports

Oct. 29-31

Nov. 7

http://www.spirit.com/Content/Documents/en-US/Press_Releases/20121026a.pdf

As of 2:45pm, October 27, 2012 *United's published policy includes an offer of refunds for delays longer than two hours. **Must complete reticketing by Nov. 1 +Can cancel for credit for travel within one year ++Must complete ticketing by Oct. 31 *** Delta says it has added 8 additional states to the waiver, including Pennsylvania, but it has yet to appear on the Web. So call if you're in a storm-related area. N/P = No policy posted



10/26/12, 7:45PM ET, FRIDAY
RUN AWAY!

Most carriers serving the Northeast have now posted a travel-waiver policy. (Check the chart below.) As you can see, they are what we now can only call airline-standard stupid. They allow you to change flights early next week, but only until next weekend or so. Which means that if the storm, which is projected to be gigantic, wipes out more travel than the airlines expect, they'll be in the position of canceling a rescheduled flight or giving you a second bite at the apple. Add that to the fact that millions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states may be without power for days, the lunacy of these short-window "re-accommodations" is self-evident.

Meanwhile, it's clear that Northeasterners remember last year's Hurricane Irene and the freak Halloween snowstorm. Hotels in the area are filling up fast. If you want a backup in case your own home is affected, move now. I was booking for myself a few hours ago and the room rate doubled as I was filling out the rez form. By the time I submitted it, the hotel chain returned a "sold out" claim. So move now if you want nearby accommodations in reserve.

The storm appears to be in unchartered meteorological territory. Apparently, the remnants of Hurricane Sandy will be sucked North and West across the MidAtlantic due to the movements of two separate jet streams. Yeah, I know, sounds odd to me, too. But if you watch the Weather Channel and hear the weather geeks talk, it makes scary sense. Or, as King Arthur said when confronted by the Killer Bunny Rabbit: Run Away!

PUBLISHED AIRLINE TRAVEL-WAIVER POLICIES

AIRLINE

WHERE?

ORIGINAL TRAVEL

FLY BY

LINK FOR POLICY DETAILS

United*

29 airports

Oct. 28-31

Nov. 4

http://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/travel/news/Pages/travelnotices.aspx

Delta

8 states

Oct. 29-31

Nov. 4

http://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/flight_status_updates/advisories/east_coast_storm/index.jsp

American

22 airports

Oct. 28-31

Nov. 4

http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/travelAlerts.jsp

US Airways

44 airports

Oct. 29-31

Nov. 4

http://www.usairways.com/TravelCenter/Advisories.aspx

Southwest

N/P

N/P

N/P

http://www.southwest.com/html/advisories/swa_travel_advisory_20129261351263421217.html

JetBlue

10 airports

Oct. 20-30

Nov. 1

http://www.jetblue.com/JetblueAlerts/WeatherUpdate.aspx

Frontier

6 airports

Oct. 29-31

Nov. 7

http://www.flyfrontier.com/flight-info/weather

Virgin America

N/P

N/P

N/P

http://virginamerica.com/news.do?int=news_0000_ab

Alaska Airlines

N/P

N/P

N/P

 

Spirit Airlines

3 airports

Oct. 29-31

Nov. 7

http://www.spirit.com/Content/Documents/en-US/Press_Releases/20121026a.pdf

As of 7:15pm, October 26, 2012 *United's published policy includes an offer of refunds for delays longer than two hours. N/P = No policy posted



10/25/12, 8:15PM ET, THURSDAY
FRANKENSTORM THREATENS TRAVEL NEXT WEEK

Who's up for another wacky Halloween storm? Some of us are still recovering from last year's freak Halloween snowstorm, which dumped upwards of three feet of snow and snarled traffic for days in the Northeast. Now the weather geeks are saying that Hurricane Sandy, a Category 2 storm that is plowing through parts of the Caribbean, will head north early next week and slap the entire Eastern seaboard. It's rare that a late-season hurricane becomes the equivalent of a Nor'easter and turns left to make landfall, hence the Frankenstorm moniker. As of this evening (Thursday, October 25), the weather experts say the storm could affect travel from the Carolinas to New England. Besides the normal chaos--strong winds, heavy rain, flooding, long delays and cancellations that could cripple hubs from Washington to Boston--don't forget that many trees in the East are still heavy with leaves. That makes them more likely to fall in bad weather, taking out power lines and snarling road and rail traffic to airports. Bottom line? Pay careful attention to the weather Web sites and the Weather Channel. It could be an ugly, ugly, ugly travel week. And consider deferring travel to/from Eastern destinations next week.

Copyright 2012 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.