This story has been updated with new information
Air travelers faced major flight headaches Tuesday as a powerful Nor’easter brought a mix of snow, ice, rain and wind to much of the East Coast.
As of 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, more than 1,100 flights had been scrapped in the U.S. according to data from FlightAware.
The biggest problems are concentrated around some of the nation’s biggest hub airports in the Northeast.
New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) has been the most heavily affected, with more than 220 departures scrapped by mid-morning Tuesday — more than 40% of the day’s schedule.
Also heavily affected: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Newark/Liberty International Airport (EWR), and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) — the latter of which is expected to feel the brunt of the storm Tuesday afternoon as the winter weather system moves further into New England.
The snow should taper off by mid to late afternoon in New York City, the National Weather Service (NWS) reported Tuesday morning.
But Boston and the surrounding region could see snowfall into the afternoon hours.
Many areas could see several inches of snow, though the forecast remains dynamic.
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Delays and cancellations mounting
Ahead of the storm, airlines acted preemptively Monday to cancel hundreds of flights for Tuesday, anticipating the conditions.
But it’s making for a difficult travel day, nonetheless.
Regional carrier Republic Airways, which operates flights for Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines, leads the way with more than 259 departures canceled as of 8:30 a.m. Tuesday — nearly 30% of its operation, FlightAware shows.
Endeavor Air, a regional subsidiary of Delta, has canceled another 184 flights.
And JetBlue, which has an operation heavily concentrated in the affected Northeast region, has canceled nearly a fifth of its Tuesday schedule.
Airports have warned customers to begin preparing for potential travel challenges in recent days. In Boston, Logan officials warned on social media Monday: “Due to forecasted snow, delays and cancellations are expected.” The airport urged customers to check their flight status with their airline.
If your flight is likely to be affected by the winter storm in the Northeast, you may have more flexibility than usual to change your trip. In recent days, the largest U.S. carriers have issued travel alerts spanning the mid-Atlantic, New York and New England.
And those advisories remain in effect.
These waivers typically allow even those passengers with the most restrictive, typically “unchangeable” tickets to alter schedules without incurring penalties — though each airline will specify rules for changing a ticket and what you’ll have to do to avoid paying a difference in fare.
Travelers covered by these alerts span many of the largest airlines’ biggest hubs, along with many other airports in the region.
Delta has issued alerts for its hubs at Boston, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK); American has done the same for LaGuardia, JFK and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL); United has alerts in place for Dulles International Airport (IAD) outside Washington, D.C., as well as Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).
What to do if your flight is delayed or canceled
Though the cancelations seem to be limited, so far, to Tuesday, it’s possible the disruptions could spread to Wednesday as airlines work to reset their operation.
So, if you have travel plans for the next day or two, your best bet is to begin preparing… and planning what you would do if your flight were delayed or canceled.
Download your airline’s app
Make sure you’ve downloaded your airline’s app, and verify that your flight reservation appears in the app.
And keep a close eye on it.
The airline may proactively offer you a chance to rebook yourself with a few taps of the finger to avoid the worst conditions. It may do the same if your flight is affected by the winter weather, in which case you should act quickly, since seats on planes that are flying will quickly fill up as the disruptions pile up.
Plus, you can use the app to check the status of your incoming plane. If you’re leaving from Chicago and it’s delayed in Boston, there’s a good chance you may run into trouble yourself.
Long wait at customer service? Try this
If you need customer service assistance and are running into long waits on hold or at the customer service desk — and if your app isn’t cutting it — there are two things you might try.
First, fire up your laptop and see if your airline has an online chat option with customer service. This can sometimes be a quicker way to get help. Just make sure you have your confirmation number handy, because you’ll need it.
A second option: Do you have airline lounge access? The customer service agents upfront can help you, often with a much shorter wait.
Related: Best credit cards for airport lounge access
Know your refund rights
During bad weather, the airline typically won’t reimburse you for unexpected hotel nights or meals if you get stuck somewhere.
However, if the airline cancels your flight, or if your flight is significantly delayed, and you choose not to travel, you’re entitled to a refund for the unused portion of your ticket, under U.S. Department of Transportation policy (but if you take the airline up on its offer to rebook you on another flight, no refund is required).
Don’t forget about travel insurance
Once a storm has formed, it’s generally too late to buy a travel insurance plan that will allow you to cancel your trip and make a claim to get your money back.
This is where a travel credit card with trip insurance protections comes in handy. If you booked all aspects of your trip with that card, you may be able to recover the costs of expenses like a hotel night, ground transportation or meals — yes, even if the flight troubles were because of bad weather.
And, if you’re out of luck this time, it may be all the more reason to consider adding a card with travel insurance to your wallet in the future.