The good news is that the storm is supposed to pass through the Northeast before Thanksgiving Day, with the weather mostly clearing up by Wednesday evening.
Most airlines are hoping the storms won't be too severe, allowing them to continue operating a nearly full schedule with few cancellations, but likely a lot of delays, said Daniel Baker, CEO of FlightAware, a global flight tracking service.
"Cancellations are used as a good, preventative measure to avoid cascading delays that can negatively impact travelers thousands of miles away," Baker said.
Heavy rain and high winds would affect travel by air and road in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic and could have a ripple effect on airports with departing and originating flights elsewhere.
Heavy rain and breezy conditions were in the forecast Wednesday from the Carolinas to the Northeast, with ice and snow a possibility in the Appalachians, western Pennsylvania and western New York.
The storm system, already blamed for at least 11 deaths, could also spawn isolated tornadoes in the Florida Panhandle. The Southeast is set to suffer soaking rain in the coming days, primarily in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.
"It couldn't have come at a worse time," said meteorologist Tim Morrin of the National Weather Service. "Visibility will be restricted not only by the rain and wash from other cars, but from the fog."
After arguing with American Airlines on Tuesday, David Short was able to board a flight from New York City to Dallas a day earlier than planned. The airline initially told him it would cost $2,000 to get on the earlier flight, but a few hours later a representative told him the airline was offering flight-change waivers at no cost.
"It was definitely very frustrating and stressful, but it's all working out," Short said.
This holiday will likely see the most air travelers since 2007, according to Airlines for America, the industry's trade and lobbying group, with the busiest day being Sunday, an estimated 2.56 million passengers. Wednesday is expected to be the second-busiest, with 2.42 million passengers.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Scott Mayerowitz and Deepti Hajela in New York City, John Raby in Charleston, W.Va., Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Ark., and Diana Heidgerd, David Koenig and David Warren in Dallas.