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Airlines Waive Change Fees as Winter Storm Kade Impacts Travel

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As Winter Storm Kade continues to move east after dumping snow on the Rocky Mountains and areas of Texas and Oklahoma, the Midwest and Northeast are preparing for the travel disruptions plaguing the Plains.

According to Weather.com, the winter storm system is dumping snow from southeast New Mexico northeastward to Kansas and Missouri Wednesday morning, and the freezing rain, sleet and snow are expected to move into the Midwest and Northeast through Friday.

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Travelers are being warned about flight disruptions and messy driving conditions from Texas to Maine in the coming days. Airlines have already started issuing travel advisories and waiving change fees as a result of Kade’s impact.

According to FlightAware.com, more than 240 flights within, into or out of the United States were canceled Wednesday, and another 290-plus have been delayed so far. The disruptions follow 2,300 delayed flights Tuesday, mostly in Dallas, Denver and Salt Lake City.

As a result, airlines such as American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue and United continue to waive change fees for impacted travelers scheduled to fly through airports in Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

To be eligible, customers need to have purchased their ticket by February 3 for travel on or before February 5. Passengers who rebook their trips at no additional fee will have to choose another flight by February 8 or be forced to pay for the change.

Southwest Airlines has expanded its travel advisory to Chicago and Indianapolis for February 5-6, with impacted customers being permitted to rebook in the original class of service within 14 days of their original departure date.

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U.S. State Department Stops Issuing Passports Amid COVID-19

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The U.S. Department of State has scaled back its Passport Agency operations and will no longer be issuing new passports in view of the situation surrounding the still-escalating COVID-19 pandemic.

Travel + Leisure pointed out that the release of this directive in late March coincided with the State Department’s issuance of a Level 4 travel advisory, which warns Americans to avoid all international travel and instructing those outside U.S. borders to return home immediately or risk being stranded abroad for an indefinite period of time.

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The Passport Divisions’ recent policy change mentioned that those who had already applied to obtain a new passport or renew an existing one prior to March 20, 2020, will not have their orders affected. The agency said that it would honor its commitment to fulfilling those expedited-service orders placed on or before March 19 within two to three weeks, door-to-door.

Moving forward, passports will be available only to persons facing qualifying life-or-death emergencies, such as serious illnesses, injuries or deaths in their immediate family, which require them to travel outside the United States within 72 hours’ time.

Such persons will need to not only provide their passport application and supporting documents, and proof of planned international travel (e.g. reservation, ticket or itinerary), but also proof of the life-or-death circumstance. This might include documents like a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, or a signed letter from a hospital or medical professional, and must be translated into English.

To make an appointment at a passport center in the event of a life-or-death emergency, one must call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 a. m. and 5:00 p.m., or Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EST); or call (202) 647-4000 outside of regular business hours.

No indication was given as to when the State Department would again begin accepting passport applications. As is now the case among most organizations that are attempting to respond to the continually evolving pandemic, its future plans remain up in the air. The announcement only stated, “The status of our operations may change quickly. We will update this notice as the status changes.”

For more information, visit travel.state.gov.

This post was published by our news partner: TravelPulse.com | Article Source

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