Several big airlines are waiving change fees as a quick-moving winter storm was forecast to dump snow along a 1,500-mile track from Colorado to the Mid-Atlantic.
Southwest, United and Frontier had all waived fees for travelers flying through certain airports in the storm’s path. Additional waivers were possible as the storm moved east, with forecasts calling for snow at major airports such as Denver, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and the Missouri airports of Kansas City and St. Louis.
By Sunday, accumulating snow was possible for Washington Dulles and Washington Reagan National, though current forecasts called for just 3 inches or less.
On Friday, about 120 flights had been canceled nationwide as of 9:45 a.m. ET, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. Many of those were related to the storm, including in Missouri, where some flights were pre-emptively canceled ahead of the snow.
By late Thursday, Southwest had canceled about 40 combined arrivals and departures in St. Louis and about a half-dozen in Kansas City, FlightAware calculated.
A handful of flights were canceled elsewhere because of the storm, dubbed Winter Storm Gia by The Weather Channel.
By Friday morning, United had rolled out two waivers. One covered its Denver hub and nine other airports in Colorado. The second covered a dozen airports in the Midwest and Ohio Valley, including Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Lexington and Louisville in Kentucky and Kansas City and St. Louis in Missouri, among others. The Colorado waiver covered Friday flights while the Midwest waiver was good for flights on both Friday and Saturday. The waivers generally allowed eligible flyers to make one change to their itineraries without paying the standard change fee of $200 or more.
Frontier’s policy was similar, covering its Friday flights at Denver and Colorado Springs.
Southwest is unique among U.S. airlines in that it doesn’t charge change fees. Instead, its waivers allow travelers to make one change to their itineraries without paying a recalculated fare, which is standard practice at all U.S. carriers. Southwest’s rebooking policy covers Friday and Saturday flights at Denver, Kansas City and St. Louis and Saturday and Sunday flights at Cincinnati and Indianapolis.