AAA: Wintry weather could impact Thanksgiving travel

AAA LogoSnow, ice and soaking rain are all forecast up and down the East Coast on the busiest travel day of the holiday this week.  AAA Mid-Atlantic urges holiday travelers to refrain from traveling if possible until the wintry weather completely passes and it is safe to travel again.

Most travelers, 90 percent, will choose to drive to their holiday destination this week, causing massive traffic woes and havoc on treacherous roadways.

Wednesday can turn into a chaotic and frightening scene of events on the roadways along the East Coast,” said Tammy Arnette, Public Affairs Specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “With over one million travelers in Virginia taking to the roads this Wednesday, AAA is warning motorists to heed all travel warnings and stay home until road conditions improve.”

Airline bound travelers could also face long delays and cancelled flights along the storm’s path.   Travelers scheduled to fly out of town are advised to check the status of their flight before attempting to leave home.  While most airlines will work with travelers if their flight is cancelled and try to rebook them at an alternate time, the airline is not required to refund your airfare. There is no federal regulation requiring this and each airline has its own policies regarding delays and cancellations, warns AAA Travel.

Knowing your travel rights whether you are a frequent or an infrequent flier may save you time and money, much less spending a large portion of your Thanksgiving holiday stuck on the freeway on the way to the airport, cautions AAA Travel. Expect major headaches at delay-prone hub airports along the East Coast and across the Mid-Atlantic states.

 

Drivers are advised to heed the following tips:

Increase following distance – Increase your following distance to at least 10 seconds to allow yourself time in the event you or the car in front of you loses control. The stopping distance required on ice at zero degrees Fahrenheit is twice the amount required at thirty-two degrees.

Use extra caution on bridges and overpasses – Bridges and overpasses freeze first and melt last. Therefore, use extra caution as the roadway leading up to the bridge may appear fine but the bridge itself could be a sheet of ice.

Accelerate slowly – Traction is the greatest just before the wheel starts to spin; therefore accelerating slowly will increase your grip on the road.

Ease off the gas pedal – If your tires begin to slip or you begin to skid, ease off the gas pedal until you regain control of the vehicle.

Brake slowly and gently – Slamming on the brakes on ice or snow covered roads dramatically increases your risk of losing control of your vehicle.

Control the skid – In the event you find your car is skidding, ease off of the accelerator or brake, and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go.

Never use cruise control  – Cruise control is not recommended when snow or ice is on the road.  Drivers should be in full control of the vehicle at every second.

Drive in cleared lanes – Changing lanes unnecessarily puts you at greater risk of hitting a patch of ice between lanes that may cause you to lose control of the vehicle.

 

Flight Delays and Travel Cancellations Tips

Know your rights. Check with your airline regarding cancellation policies for your specific type of ticket. In advance of your departure date, travelers should research whether their tickets are refundable and, if not, whether the ticket can be used at another time. Travelers making changes to their reservations in advance should research what types of fees will be associated with the changes and whether any short-notice changes will cause the loss of the ticket value. Carry a printed copy of the contract of carriage with the airline, so you know what to expect should your flight be cancelled.

Mind the weather. Watch for weather forecasts for every airport you will pass through. The weather may be warm and sunny where you begin your trip, but severe weather in any layover city or at your final destination may cause significant delays. The Federal Aviation Administration maintains flight delay information for general airport conditions, but make sure to check with your individual departure airport as well.

Know how to be contacted. Make sure you have included a cell phone number with your travel reservation so you can receive automated alerts while you are at the airport. Locate the social media accounts for your airlines. Sending messages by social media is an additional way to contact the airline if phone lines are busy with other callers trying to re-book flights. Some airlines have dedicated social media accounts solely to help passengers with travel related difficulties. Tweeting for assistance may help you re-book a flight if the phone lines are jammed or disconnected.

Check your traveler’s insurance policy. Read over your traveler’s insurance policy if you have purchased one for your trip. As a general rule, AAA Travel strongly recommends trip cancellation insurance, which reimburses monetary losses if cancellation must be made due to illness or death of passenger or immediate family.

Delays. Delays. Delays.  Be prepared for delays. Once you check your baggage you won’t be able to access it to retrieve items very easily, if at all. Always keep any medication in your carry on.  Also, pack an extra change of clothes in your carry on for each family member for any extended delay. Make sure you also keep your battery charger for your phones as well. While at the airport, make sure to check in with the airlines at the gate for last minute changes.

So, if your flight is delayed or canceled while you are at the airport, get to the counter immediately and get on the phone with the airline while you’re in line to try and get on the next available flight. Long story short: be prepared for any additional upcoming flight delays.

 

AAA provides travelers with travel booking services and all the travel information needed to make informed decisions. A reservation through AAA can be made using the AAA mobile app, online at AAA.com, by calling a AAA Travel Agent or by stopping by one of the more than 1,000 branch locations across the U.S. and Canada. For more info, contact: aaa.com/Travel.

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