Two-thirds of the nation's flights are likely to be impacted by the major winter storm on Thursday and Friday
Millions taking to the roads and skies prior to Christmas could face big trouble getting to their destinations on time. Nina Pineda has travel tips for this holiday season.
NEW YORK (WABC) — A massive winter storm will cause treacherous holiday travel and usher in life-threatening cold for much of the nation ahead of Christmas.
The powerful holiday-week storm will unfold from Thursday into Friday and unleash heavy snow in higher elevations and heavy rain elsewhere, including the New York City metropolitan area, along with strong winds.
Millions taking to the roads and skies prior to Christmas could face big trouble getting to their destinations on time.
Two-thirds of the nation's flights are likely to be impacted by the major storm on Thursday and Friday, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.
Several major hubs, including Chicago, Detroit, and New York City, are all in the path of the storm and face significant disruptions. Ripple-effect delays from affected aircraft and crews will be felt across the nation.
RELATED: Check the latest AccuWeather forecast
Delta and American said Thursday and Friday were expected to be the busiest of the season.
Airlines canceled more than 2,600 flights on Tuesday.
Check your flight status by visiting the appropriate airport website:
The good news is major airlines are already offering travel waivers to get you rescheduled.
The bad news is you and thousands of others who want to get home for the holidays will be scrambling for those same seats.
Major carriers out of area airports are getting ahead the weather to mitigate a mess of cancellations and delays, offering to waive change fee and any difference in fare.
There are restrictions depending on destinations, so go to your carrier's website and check first.
United is offering an East Coast Winter Weather waiver, if a ticket was purchased prior to Dec. 18 for those traveling from Thursday to Sunday.
American is also waiving fee if you bought your ticket by December 19 and are scheduled to travel between the 22nd and Christmas Eve
Jet Blue issued a Midwest winter weather fee waiver. If you're traveling between our area to Chicago, Kansas, Milwaukee or St. Paul, change and cancellation fees are waived for customers going between December 21st through the 23rd. You have to re-book before Christmas.
If your flight gets cancelled, Scott Keyes with Scotts Cheap Flights says you are entitled to get your money back for cancelled domestic flights.
If you are cancelled internationally check to see if your credit card will reimburse you.
His advice if you're at the airport and your flight is delayed or cancelled, get in line and on the phone simultaneously.
Inside tip: Don't call the main airline number. Find international office numbers.
"The reason why is the international office often times have very short cues," he said.
Next be proactive: research alternate flights even on a different airline and request that flight specifically.
Behind the storm "extreme and prolonged freezing conditions" can be expected as far south as Mississippi, according to the National Weather Service.
Meteorologist Lee Goldberg says there's a potential for a flash freeze on Friday night and it will be bitterly cold for Christmas Eve and Christmas.
If your travel ends up being impacted, here's some more advice to help navigate the system when flights are delayed or canceled whether by staff shortages, weather or other issues.
And with the possibility of flight disruptions rising, here are some tips how to make sure you don't lose track of your luggage amid the travel crush.
MORE ACCUWEATHER RESOURCES
Check AccuTrack Radar
AccuTrack Radar New York City view
NWS Advisories, Watches and Warnings
School closings and delays
For weather updates wherever you go, please download the AccuWeather app.
Follow meteorologist Lee Goldberg, Sam Champion, Brittany Bell, Jeff Smith, and Dani Beckstrom on social media.
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