Flight Cancellations Mount as Holiday Weekend Approaches

PHOTO: Delta Air Lines cancelled hundreds of flights and Southwest Airlines suspended most operations into and out of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Feb. 11, 2014, in Atlanta.

Another day, another few thousand flight cancellations.

This time, we're heading into a long holiday weekend and, for some families, the kickoff to a week-long school vacation when many choose to head south for warmer weather. As of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday there are nearly 3,000 flight cancellations in the U.S. and another 1,400 so far for Thursday, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.com.

That search for warmer weather can't come at a better time, at least for those who will actually get to their destination. Seven of the top 10 travel destinations for the upcoming holiday weekend are warm-weather destinations, according to booking data from travel website Orbitz.

But a "catastrophic" ice storm is making its way up the East Coast will most certainly hamper those getaway plans for many. Several states -- including Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana -- have issued emergency declarations ahead of the storm.

Compounding the problem of cancellations is where those cancellations are concentrated. Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport, the largest airport in the nation by passenger traffic and the main hub for Delta Air Lines, is leading the way for cancelled flights both today and Thursday. The always-congested airports of the Northeast -- including Newark, N.J., Philadelphia and Reagan National in Washington, D.C. -- are also topping the list.

While every airline has issued a flexible travel policy for cities affected by the storm, it may not be useful for families married to a school vacation schedule. For example, passengers on Delta who want to change their tickets must start their trip before Wednesday, Feb. 19. However, keep in mind if your flight is cancelled or significantly delayed you are entitled to a full refund. Because hotels generally only require 24 hours notice for cancellation of a reservation, the best option could be to cancel the trip all together.

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