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Bomb cyclone: How the winter storm might impact US travel

A few days before Christmas, at the height of the holiday travel season, a severe winter storm is expected to hit the United States, bringing blizzards and freezing temperatures.

The National Weather Service has predicted that “strong winter storms will bring numerous weather disasters to the central and eastern United States over the weekend.”

The Federal Weather Service also predicted that the weather could drop by more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius) within hours. Meteorologists predicted that this could trigger a “bomb cyclone,” defined by Merriam-Webster as “a powerful, rapidly intensifying storm associated with a sudden and significant drop in atmospheric pressure.”

The storm is expected to disrupt car and air travel from the morning of December 22nd.

What should I do if I am planning a trip

If you plan to travel to the United States in the next few days, or to prepare for a storm in the United States, there are a few things you should do. First, if you have the flexibility to change your flights, many airlines already offer change waivers, allowing you to do so at no additional cost.

Next, make sure your contact information (both email address and phone number) is updated with your respective airline booking.

Consider downloading the airline’s app. This not only provides you with up-to-date information about your flight, but also helps you quickly rebook from the airport if your flight is cancelled. Also, consider downloading a hotel booking app in case you need to book a hotel room quickly.

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Pack a charger in your carry-on for delays © wundervisuals/Getty Images

Check your flight status before heading to the airport. It’s easier and more comfortable to make a phone call to change plans from your home or hotel rather than sitting behind security.

Finally, pack everything you need in your carry-on in case your flight is canceled or your checked baggage is delayed. That means medicines, car and house keys, a change of clothes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, phone bills, whatever else you might need if you don’t have your stuff with you for 24 hours (or more).

What to do if your flight is canceled

If a flight is canceled or delayed due to weather, the consumer may have few rights or options as this is considered beyond the control of the airline.

However, once you know your flight has been cancelled, don’t wait in line at the ticket counter to rebook. You can get fast service.

If I need to stay overnight in that city, I immediately use a hotel or booking app on my phone to try to find a room quickly. There are a lot of large planes full of people looking for rooms, so trying to physically get to the hotel first is rolling the dice. Check availability and book using the app.

Weather cancellations may not be of much help in terms of reimbursement of costs. However, check the card you booked with to see if it offers reimbursement of costs incurred if your trip is interrupted.