Wall of Storms Threatens to Upend Holiday Travel

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More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. The overwhelming majority — about 39 million people — will be on the roads. But more than 3 million people are expected to filter through airports, and the weather could snarl takeoffs and landings at some of the busiest hubs on the East Coast, including New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and Charlotte, N.C.

Transportation officials advised travelers to check with their airlines and reduce speed on highways. Travel experts suggested airline passengers might be able to have penalty fees waived if they wanted to change their bookings because of the weather.

Weather woes aside, there were some things for travelers to be happy about this year. The Federal Aviation Administration last month lifted restrictions on the use of most personal electronic devices during takeoffs and landings, and some airlines, including American, have already begun allowing passengers to stay powered up from gate to gate.

On the ground, gas prices are a little cheaper than a year earlier. For car-less urbanites, Amtrak is adding more trains for the holiday, and a new breed of express intercity bus was drawing more passengers hoping to escape airport hassles without sacrificing comfort.

Jeff Smidt hoped to travel from his home in Toronto on Wednesday to visit his family near Boston. He planned to drive if he could not fly because of the weather.

“My understanding is that I’m traveling at like the worst time ever,” Smidt said. He tried to change his JetBlue reservation to get on an earlier flight but was told the airline wasn’t waiving any change fees yet.

“Worst comes to worst, it will be an eight-hour trek down Interstate 90,” he said.

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