December was a wild month for air travelers headed to the snow or trying to get home from the mountains. January is shaping up to continue the pattern of weather-related delays for skiers and riders.
Spokesmen for two airports in snow country, DIA in Denver and the Burlington International Airport in Vermont, both noted, however, that their runways were clear. The problem was that passengers headed home from fun in the snow in Vermont or Colorado couldn't land at their destinations, or perhaps planes couldn't take off for snowy destinations.
They advised travelers to use their websites for various kinds of information. A check by OnTheSnow of websites for Jackson Hole, Eagle Vail, and Montreal-Tradeau, among other places skiers and riders might go, proved the value of these spots on the Internet. (See links below.)
Laura Coale at Denver International Airport said, "We don't shut down often. Typically we'll have at least one of our six runways open. We have 200 pieces of snow-removal equipment, and over 500 trained personnel."
DIA divides its snow clearance operations into "planeside," which means gates, taxiways, and runways, and "landside," parking lots and Pena Boulevard.
Coale pointed out that the DIA website (link below) has up-to-date information on estimated security times, parking, road conditions, and, under travel tips, material on hotels within 10 miles of the airport.
Travelers can get information in English, Spanish, German, French, Portugese, and Japanese.
Richard C. Varney, operations manager at Burlington International Airport, said, "We have no disruptions from snow. It would take a heck of a lot of snow to shut us down, and it's never happened in 25 years I've been here."
He attributed such success to "skilled operators, and a lot of multi-purpose equipment."
Varney said that "the biggest piece of advice I can give the traveler is call the airline." Even if Burlington is clear, there can be a problem elsewhere in the carrier's system.
"There are a lot of things they have to factor in, like crew rest, and the equipment they're flying. Sometimes they don't have enough planes to go around once they get off-schedule."
The Burlington airport website (see below) also has information on weather, traffic, parking, and flight information, both general and specific, what's called "live tracking."
Information is available in English and French.
Ron Marsico, at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates that area's three major airports, which were shut down for two days and suffered disruptions for many more, had what he called "basically common-sense advice.
"Typically, we stress to fliers that they should check with their carrier by phone or online to make sure their flights are not delayed or cancelled - especially during inclement weather. They should also leave extra time when flying on days with poor weather or busy timeframes like the holidays. They can also check the FAA's website to see how the airport they're flying from is doing in terms of real-time delays and can further check their flights status by using a website like flightstats.com.
"Airlines now have Facebook and Twitter pages, so those are obvious go-to places for info for fliers as well."
The Port Authority also offers free alerts directly to cellphones, phones or e-mail if flights are delayed by weather fore more than two hours, if parking lots are full, or if AirTrain service is disrupted. (See below.)