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Flight cancellations, delays pile up at Tampa airport ahead of major winter storm

The major hubs across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast could measure snowfall by the foot this weekend.

TAMPA, Fla. — A powerful winter storm forecast to wallop the Northeast with strong winds and heavy snow this weekend already is affecting air travel in the Tampa Bay region.

There are at least 18 flight cancellations affecting travelers Friday at Tampa International Airport, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware. It doesn't get any better Saturday, with at least 67 flights already canceled.

Sunday, hopefully, will provide some relief but cancellations already are on the board: at least seven are reported as of this writing.

A spokesperson for Tampa International Airport says, "Our advice to passengers traveling this weekend is to check in with their airlines for the most up-to-date schedules before arriving at TPA, as we do expect delays and cancelations any time there is bad weather affecting large parts of the country."

10 Tampa Bay reached out to multiple airlines which all say these travel complications are a direct result of the incoming winter storm and are not related to the 5G rollout or the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on staffing. 

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport also has at least a handful of delays and cancellations.

Travel trouble spots include LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and Boston Logan International Airport. Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways top the list of most affected flights.

A foot of snow or more is likely across portions of the mid-Atlantic coastline into New England, the National Weather Service warns. Far eastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod could get 2 feet.

"Heavy snow rates combined with strong winds are expected to produce blizzard conditions..." the weather service said. "Whiteout conditions could create nearly impossible travel, while strong winds will likely lead to scattered power outages and some damage."

Travelers are advised to keep an eye on their airline for the latest information on any flight delays or cancellations. According to its website, Southwest right now is allowing its travelers to rebook within two weeks of their original travel date without paying any additional charge.

JetBlue is offering a similar perk for travel through Feb. 1. Customers with canceled flights with either airline can ask for a refund.

In a statement, a representative of American Airlines said the majority of flights that were canceled were done ahead of time so that customers could be properly accommodated. 

"Additionally, we issued a travel notice to allow customers whose travel plans are impacted by the storm to rebook without change fees. We apologize to our customers whose travel plans may be affected, and want to thank our team who are working tirelessly to help us safely care for our customers," the spokesperson said. 

A United Airlines spokesperson shared the following tips for people traveling through this weekend’s winter storms:

  • When severe weather or other major events affect flights, travel waivers are sometimes issued to allow customers to change or alternate flights without paying a change fee. 
  • United said it got rid of change fees for most economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S. or between the U.S. and Mexico or the Caribbean. There also won't be change fees for other international travel originating in the U.S.
  • Customers can go to united.com or use our mobile app by selecting “Change flight” to change eligible reservations.