Winter Blast Batters Airlines and Passengers

(Photo Credit: JFK Airport)

Morning Money Memo:

Super-cold weather and punishing storms have been tough on the airline industry and travelers, causing tens of thousands of canceled and delayed flights since Monday. One estimate puts the total cost of extra expenses for companies and consumers at $1.4 billion.

When the weather gets bad and flights can be affected in your region, aviation experts say, you should know your rights before going to the airport. "Many airlines, especially the legacy carriers, have a ticketing agreement with other carriers," says airline regulations consultant Terry Trippler, who runs An example of how these link-ups work is Delta, which "has a ticketing agreement with American, Alaska, US Airways." That policy, Trippler says, could help you leave on another flight more quickly if yours is canceled. "It's not a code-share it's a ticketing agreement," he adds. First, go to airline you are scheduled to fly on and ask about making a change.

A month after announcing a merger with US Airways, American Airlines announced the first of many changes. Members of American's AAdvantage and US Airways' Dividend Miles programs can now earn and redeem miles while traveling on either airline. Both carriers will start a code-sharing agreement in the next few months, allowing customers to buy tickets through either company.

What will the Fed say about the economy? Is the job market getting stronger? Two questions for Wall Street today. The stock market broke out of its start-of-year funk Tuesday as the Standard and Poor's 500 index had its first up day of 2014. The index rose 11 points to break a three-day losing streak. Futures fell slightly this morning. Twitter dropped more than 7 percent Tuesday after a 4 percent tumble Monday. Its shares continue to sell off after a downgrade by a Morgan Stanley analyst.

The Federal Reserve today releases a summary of its December meeting when policymakers decided to cut the size of the bond purchase stimulus. The program was reduced to $75 billion from $85 billion a month. The Fed also said it will not hike short-term interest rates until "well past the time" when the U.S. unemployment rate falls below 6.5 percent. The payroll firm ADP is publishing new numbers on last month's job creation by private employers.

Unemployment in Europe remains very high but at least it's not getting any worse. The official E.U. jobless rate is 12.1 percent for the eighth month in a row. Germany's rate is much lower, while more than 1 in 4 people are out of work in Greece and Spain. Germany's trade surplus widened to a near record in November. Official figures out today could potentially fuel critics' concerns that the country is not spending enough to help its struggling partners in the eurozone.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally says he will not leave the automaker for Microsoft and will stay at Ford at least through this year. Mullaly has been widely credited with putting Ford in a much stronger position since the car industry's deep slump.

The Internal Revenue Service says it's seeing a big jump in thieves stealing Social Security numbers to claim tax refunds fraudulently. The IRS launched nearly 1,500 criminal investigations into identity theft last year, a 66 percent increase from the year before.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio Twitter: daviesnow

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