Canceled flights: Delays, cancellations impact Reagan, New York, Boston

Photo: Jay Westcott

Hundreds of flights at airports in the Washington area and nationwide continue to be delayed and canceled due to the massive storm that's now tracking into the Northeast and New England.

On Thursday, the main hot spots for delays and flight cancellations include Reagan National Airport in Washington, Philadelphia, Newark and New York's LaGuardia Airport.

Wednesday wasn't much better for people trying to get around the Midwest and East Coast.. One traveler, Steffen Wells, planned to fly home to see his mother in Omaha, but was foiled by nature.

"All of a sudden, right as I’m about to leave it starts snowing,” he says.

The Brooks family also eventually headed west.

“The plane was stuck, couldn’t get here, and now we’re just waiting again because it’s still not coming anytime soon,” says Dea Brooks.

The airport turned into a mobile office or bedroom for many Wednesday and Thursday promises much of the same. Outside at Reagan National, some airlines elected to de-ice planes for safety.

At Dulles, the heavy equipment was out clearing snow from runaways for the first time this season.

But with 5.5 million air travelers nationwide this week, the most holiday travelers in six years, any delay anywhere is impacting more people than ever this year.

As of early Thursday afternoon, major weather-related travel delays are being reported at New York's LaGuardia, Newark, Philadelphia, Detroit, Montreal and Toronto.

As of 11:51 a.m. Thursday, flights have been canceled at the following major airports:

Reagan National 60 Washington Dulles 26 BWI-Marshall 10 New York-LaGuardia 51 New York-Kennedy 28 Newark 59 Chicago-O'Hare 33 Philadelphia 94 Dallas-Fort Worth 40 Buffalo 21 Montreal 57 Toronto 51 Boston 33 Detroit 38

Several airlines are offering itinerary changes due to the storm, including Southwest, US Airways and United.

For the latest on our local airports, you can get information at the following sites:

Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Washington Dulles International Airport

For more information on flight cancellations and delays, you can check the FAA's website or Flight Aware. If you find yourself stuck delayed or have your flight canceled, you can find out more from your carrier.

Here's a list of contact numbers and websites for some of the largest airlines in the country.

Alaska Airlines (800) 252-7522 American Airlines (800) 433-7300 Delta Air Lines (800) 221-1212 Frontier Airlines (800) 432-1359 JetBlue Airways (800) 538-2583 Southwest Airlines (800) 435-9792 Spirit Airlines (800) 772-7117 United Airlines (800) 864-8331 US Airways (800) 428-4322

More cancelations are likely throughout the evening, with Washington, New York and Philadelphia expected to see the largest problems. For instance, wind gusts at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport could exceed 50 mph Wednesday night, according to FlightAware.

Passengers are pretty much at the mercy of Mother Nature and the airlines. But there are a few things they can do to improve their odds of getting home quickly.

- If you miss your connection, the airlines will automatically rebook you on the next available flight. However, with flights at near capacity, the next open seat could be several days away. Two years ago, some Christmas fliers had to wait nearly a week to get home.

- If you're unhappy with your rebooked flight, get in line to speak to a customer service representative. But also, pick up the phone and call the airline directly, go onto the airline's website and even consider sending a Tweet.

- Consider buying a one-day pass to the airline lounge. It's a nice place to relax away from the crowd and there are usually free drinks and small snacks. But the real secret to the lounges is that the airline staffs them with some of its best - and friendliest - ticket agents. The lines inside will be much shorter and these agents are magically able to find empty seats where nobody else can. One-day passes typically cost $50 per person.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.