Winter Storm Pounds East Coast, Possible Blizzard for Some Cities

United canceled 225 flights on the east coast Saturday and American cancelled 145 flights Friday with plans not to operate any flights to the three Washington-area airports Saturday. American also plans to start flying again Sunday. Continental has cancelled flights in and out of the three Washington airports and Philadelphia from 2 p.m. Friday through Saturday. That's about 20 mainline flights.

School Closings

Many in the Washington area have already taken preemptive actions to deal with the storm, although some -- including President Obama -- questioned the efforts.

Sidwell Friends School closed today in anticipation of the storm. The president's two daughters attend the school, and he wasn't too impressed with their snow policy.

"My children's school was canceled today, because of what?" Obama said, "Some ice?"

It's not the first time the longtime Chicago resident has criticized the district's snow removal, saying shortly after taking office that the people in Washington just don't seem to be able to handle the snow and needed a little Chicago toughness.

Most airlines have already canceled flights starting mid-afternoon and some don't plan to start flying again until Sunday.

Elisabeth Stein, who works for the federal government in Washington, D.C., was planning to see friends in Detroit but unfortunately Mother Nature intervened.

"I was looking forward to spending time with my friends, but now will be spending the next few days at home watching television and reading some good books," Stein said.

Her flight, like hundreds of others, was canceled. At least she got her money back.

Most major airlines are giving customers the option to change their flights without a penalty, but that's little relief to flyers who want to get in the air this weekend.

Flight Changes Could Cost Passengers

Changing flights still could cost passengers, as airlines will charge passengers the difference in ticket prices between their original flights and the new fares. Last-minute fares are often significantly higher than those booked weeks in advance.

Delta, for instance, is allowing travelers flying to, from or through Washington D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia on Friday or Saturday to make a one-time change to their travel schedule without fees, but they must still pay the fare difference.

Delta is proactively reducing flight schedules to and from affected airports to minimize delays during the storm. However, customers may wish to consider postponing or rerouting their trips without penalty to avoid possible inconvenience. Travel for changed itineraries must begin by Monday. Customers whose flights are cancelled may request refunds.

Continental is offering a similar policy to anybody traveling through affected airports through Sunday, including the airline's hub at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

Amtrak is not providing alternate transportation for the canceled service south from Washington D.C. for Friday. The one exception are trains between New York and Miami, which will operate normally.

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