Blizzard of 2015: Resources for Travelers
Whether or not Juno lives up to the historic proportions that the Weather Channel and others are predicting, it has already had a huge impact on travel across the Eastern seaboard—and the problems will likely continue for the next few days. According to the flight-tracking website FlightAware, so far more than 6,000 flights into, out of, or within the United States have been cancelled for today and tomorrow, with D.C., Boston, and New York City airports bearing the brunt.
As previous storms have hit, we’ve amassed a series of winter-weather travel tips. (Remember Nemo and basically all of last January and February?) We’re recapping them here for any travelers caught up in this latest storm.
Tracking your flight. Don’t rely on your airline for up-to-date information. Use a flight-tracking service such as FlightStats, which often alerts travelers to schedule changes before the carrier does. You can get a general sense of what’s happening at the airport with FlightAware’s excellent Misery Map. FlightStats also offers detailed information on airport conditions right on its app.
Tracking your train. As of this afternoon, Amtrak was still operating on a normal Monday schedule. But be prepared for things to change as the evening wears on—and all bets are off for tomorrow. Get real-time updates on Amtrak service disruptions in the Northeast Corridor and on Amtrak Virginia services by following @AmtrakNEC and @AmtrakVA on twitter. Service alerts and disruptions are posted here.
Navigating the airport. Gateguru offers detailed listings (with reviews) for restaurants, stores, and other services at more than 120 different airports. It will also give you security wait times and updates on flight delays, and can coordinate with your Kayak and TripIt itinerary planners. And remember: you don’t need to be a million-miler to access an airline’s airport lounge. Most lounges are available to fliers for a fee of $50—worth it if you’re waiting out a long delay.
Last-minute hotel rooms. HotelTonight and all of the major online travel agents (Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Kayak, and Priceline) have mobile apps that help you find nearby available hotel rooms at a discount. Their inventories are not the same, so if you strike out with one, try another.
Up-to-the-minute news. Twitter is a great resource for breaking news, flight-delay updates, weather reports, and tips and advice from fellow travelers. Follow relevant hashtags (#Blizzardof2015) and handles such as @cnnbrk (for news), @flightstats (airport delays and flight tracking), and @weatherchannel. For local conditions, including updates on roads, use the following area resources:
• Boston/Massachusetts: People in Boston should follow the @MassEMA handle for announcements from Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, or download the agency's Alert app. The City of Boston is also posting and officially using the hashtag #BOSnow (though you'll have to weed through non-official posts as well).
• New York: All New York City roads will be closed to non-emergency vehicles beginning at 11 P.M. this evening. Follow the official @NYCMayorsOffice, @nycgov, and @mta handles for updates on roads and public transportation throughout the storm. @PANYNJ will have updates on any Port Authority-related closures.
• New Jersey: In New Jersey, @NJTRANSIT is posting the most up-to-the-minute information on train, light rail, and bus schedules. Currently, service will end after 8 p.m. tonight and will be suspended all day Tuesday. You can also follow @NJTRANSIT and the hashtag #NJTWinter.
• Philadelphia: The city is suggesting five different handles—including @philly311, @PhilaOEM, and @PhilaStreets—so your best bet may be following the hashtag #PhillyFightsSnowto see all of the alerts in one place.