Holiday Fliers Wary Ahead of Thanksgiving Eve Travel

Recent plane experiences in the news haven't turned them away from flying, but passengers are still cautious

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Delays were reported at all three local airports Tuesday, and it's expected to get worse as a storm pushes through. News4's Andrew Siff reports. (Published Tuesday, Nov 22, 2011)

    Even as plane passengers brace themselves for one of the busiest travel days of the year in the U.S., there will likely be more than a few unhappy fliers.

    Gusty winds were already causing delays at LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark airports Tuesday, and as the forecast is expected to worsen overnight, so were the delays. 

    Matt and Natalie Fenn know all about frustrating airplane voyages. They've sat on the tarmac for hours on recent trips, despite a new passenger bill of rights that requires airlines to provide food, water and access to working toilets after two hours, and to allow passengers off the plane after three hours.

    "From what I've heard, the airlines have a hefty fine if they don't abide by it," said Matt Fenn at LaGuardia Airport Tuesday night. "I don't know if it's better for passengers in the long run, because they'll just cancel the flight or delay them instead."

    The federal rules got fresh scrutiny in the pre-Halloween snowstorm last month, when some were stuck on the tarmac for eight hours in Hartford, Conn.

    JetBlue flight attendant Kathleen Bruens said the airline refunded people's money after the incident, even though they're not required to in bad weather.

    "Personally, I would believe, myself, of course it would make a difference in you booking an airline again," said Bruens.

    But in the end, Robert Sinclair of the AAA says rights or no rights, a stormy forecast can foul up anyone's holiday travel -- on the highway or at the airport.

    "When you throw bad weather into the picture, everything gets thrown out the window," he said.

    Sometimes airlines will issue a storm travel waiver in advance of a storm, which allows customers to make changes to their ticketed itineraries in advance without incurring fees. Check with your airline to see if they issue a storm waiver.