updated 12/22/2009 6:33:53 PM ET 2009-12-22T23:33:53

Several airlines are offering travelers heading to or from parts of the country affected by winter storms the ability to change their flight plans without being charged a fee.

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It's a common practice among major carriers.

United Airlines, a unit of Chicago-based UAL Corp., said Tuesday that with snow and ice expected this week in the Midwest, it is encouraging customers ticketed for travel Dec. 22-27 to, from or through the region to consider rebooking their itineraries and traveling early. The airline said inclement weather may drive delays or cancellations on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, which is Christmas.

United urged travelers flying to, from or through the mid-Atlantic and Northeast to take advantage of its travel waiver, as certain change fees have been waived for them.

Customers with canceled flights are eligible for a full refund.

Delta Air Lines Inc., meanwhile, said customers booked on flights operated by Delta, Northwest Airlines or Delta Connection carriers to, from or through several Midwest states from Dec. 22-27 may make a one-time change to their travel schedule without fees if tickets are changed by Dec. 27.

Delta, based in Atlanta, said it will proactively reduce flight schedules to and from affected airports to ensure delays are minimized during the storm.

Delta said travel for changed itineraries must begin by Jan. 1, and changes to origin and destination may result in a fare increase.

Delta also has extended its winter travel waiver for customers whose travel plans were affected by last weekend's record-breaking snow storm on the East Coast.

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