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Thursday, December 18, 2014         

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Before You Go

For Sunday, February 23, 2014

By McClatchy News Services

POSTED:



Forecasting leaves fewer stranded

The slew of storms that has pummeled the nation's Midwest and East Coast this winter has resulted in some horrible numbers: 77,000 canceled flights carrying nearly 6 million passengers so far this year.

An additional 43 million people were on delayed flights.

But fewer passengers may be stranded at airports during the most recent monster storms. The reason: Airlines have gotten better about canceling flights long before travelers arrive and bad weather hits.

Airlines attribute this change to better weather forecasting technology and improved communications with passengers via social media, text alerts and emails.

"By proactively canceling flights, you can minimize the impacts on your customers," said Jean Medina, a spokeswoman for Airlines for America, the trade group for the nation's airlines.

But some industry experts say airlines also cancel flights early to avoid paying pilots and flight attendants for planes that will ultimately sit on a tarmac for hours. They also say airlines cancel flights early to avoid federal fines for keeping passengers stranded on delayed flights.

Stuck at an airport? Try to avoid these five terminals: Washington's Dulles International, New York's LaGuardia, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Philadelphia International or Boston Logan International airports.

Those were the five airports that were rated the worst in which to be stranded, according to a survey of more than 44,000 people by the travel-dating website MissTravel.com.

The respondents based the ranking on cleanliness and access to free wireless Internet, among other factors.

Jennifer Gwynn, a spokeswoman for MissTravel, said she remembers being stuck in an airport where she spotted rats near a baggage carousel. "That didn't make me feel like I could sleep on the floor," she said.

The biggest concern for stranded fliers is free Wi-Fi, she said. "You don't want to be stuck somewhere, and you can't do anything on your smartphone."

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Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times






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