Christmas travel live updates: Latest news on flight delays, traffic – USA TODAY

The holidays are here and they brought some serious weather with them, threatening many people’s travel plans.
Around 115.2 million Americans are zipping up their suitcases to embark on their Christmas and New Year’s travels. Some may be bracing for bad weather that could lead to travel headaches, though everyone is certainly hoping to avoid a catastrophe like last year’s Southwest Airlines meltdown in which 17,000 flights were canceled. Thousands of people were stranded and even more suitcases went astray.
Parts of the U.S. have already been experiencing inclement weather this week, and today, travelers can expect large storms to complicate their plans with snow and rain over the middle of the U.S., according to AccuWeather meteorologists.
So far, there doesn’t appear to be any major flight cancellations or delays, but the same can’t be said about roads. Here’s what travelers should know. 
As of 5:50 p.m. ET, there are only 76 U.S. flights canceled but 3,762 delayed, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.
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United Airlines has the most cancellations with only eight, followed by Delta with two and JetBlue with one.
The Department of Transportation has a cancellation and delay dashboard to let you know what major U.S. airlines will do for you in the event of a disruption.
Policies around delays vary by carrier, but when it comes to cancellations, the rule of thumb is you’re entitled to a full refund, even if you bought a nonrefundable ticket, should you choose not to travel on alternative flights that are offered.
If you’re worried inclement weather could impact your trip, keep an eye out for updates from your airline. In anticipation of bad conditions, carriers often issue waivers that give you more flexibility to adjust your travel plans in advance without having to pay additional fees or fare differences.
U.S. airlines are required by the Department of Transportation to give passengers refunds if their flights are outright canceled, but the rules around delays are a little murkier.
There’s no official requirement for passengers to receive a refund or reimbursement as a result of a flight delay. Even the DOT’s website can be frustratingly vague for travelers.
Airlines prefer to automatically rebook you on their next available flight, but you are under no obligation to take it. Keep in mind, though, that a refund a) might not be instant and b) probably won’t cover the cost of a new last-minute ticket unless your original ticket was pricey. So in many cases, the next-available flight might be the least-expensive option for getting to your destination or back home when things go awry last minute.
If you opt for a refund, you are eligible to get your money back, not just a travel credit or voucher. Airlines are quickest to offer credits and vouchers first, so travelers who want their money back instead often have to take some extra steps.
Very likely. 
Drivers can anticipate the worst traffic before Christmas on Dec. 23 between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Check navigation apps like Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze, before heading out and pick your preferred route. You can also check ahead on road closures at the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration national links file (click here).
After Christmas, on Wednesday, Dec. 27, the roads are forecasted to be packed between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., and between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Dec. 28 and 29, according to INRIX.
As people head to their New Year’s destinations, the worst traffic will be between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Dec. 30.
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Drivers with flexibility in their travel plans should hit the road on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s to avoid the worst traffic.
On Saturday, Dec. 23, early birds who leave before 10 a.m. will get the worm (hit less traffic).
The days between Christmas and New Year’s (Tuesday, Dec. 26; Wednesday, Dec. 27; Thursday, Dec. 28; Friday; Dec. 29; and Saturday, Dec. 30) will be the most hectic on the roads. The least traffic will be before noon.
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The national average for gas prices per gallon is $3.11, with Hawaii seeing the highest prices at an average of $4.66 per gallon and Oklahoma the lowest at $2.61 per gallon.