Transatlantic travellers are being warned to expect flight cancellations and delays as a powerful winter storm grips the east coast of the US.

Almost 4,000 flights were cancelled yesterday as snow and freezing temperatures affected large parts of the US eastern seaboard and eastern Canada.

The storm, known as a “bomb cyclone” which has claimed up to 17 lives, is expected to continue to affect eastern North America into the weekend.

Nearly 60 million people are in the path of the storm, with weather warnings in effect from the Maine to parts of Georgia in the US.

Virgin Atlantic said: “The adverse weather conditions in New York and the east coast of the USA has caused disruptions to our flights. We ask customers to check the status of their flights before they travel to the airport.”

The airline is offering the option for passengers due to travel to 12 US destinations on a Virgin Atlantic or partner codeshare flight up until tomorrow the option to rebook at a later date free of charge provided travel is completed by January 12.

Virgin’s US partner Delta Air Lines grounded an additional 200 flights yesterday and 200 today as heavy snow and strong winds forced the suspension of all operations at New York JFK and LaGuardia airports.

“A reduced schedule at both NYC airports is expected Friday as the airline works to reset its operations in the region,” Delta warned.

Snow and ice had forced the airline to cancel 750 flights on Wednesday and Thursday, with operations from Boston suspended for much of yesterday.

Flights are scheduled to resume at Boston’s Logan international airport this morning local time, “pending a facility assessment of the airfield,” Delta said.

American Airlines is among carriers waiving flight change fees due to “severe weather and other uncontrollable events” across 18 US east coast airports.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in revised travel advice issued yesterday: “A powerful winter storm is currently affecting several states along the east coast of the USA.

“The resulting hazardous weather conditions have led to power outages and travel disruption in some areas, including delays and cancellations to flights.

“If you’re in the area or due to travel, you should monitor local media, follow the advice of the local authorities and check with your airline or transport provider before travelling to your point of departure.”

A Thomas Cook Airlines flight from Manchester to New York had to be diverted to Washington yesterday after the New York airport was closed due to heavy snow.

The aircraft had to remain in Washington overnight.

An update on the status of the flight from Washington and New York to Manchester is due at 9am US local time today.

Thomas Cook Airlines said: “If customers wish to make their own arrangements locally in Washington to travel to New York, or to source a hotel please retain all receipts and any reasonable expenses will be refunded.

“As the airport [JFK] is currently closed we would recommend that customers do not make their way to check-in and make arrangements locally for an overnight stay.

“Any receipts for reasonable expenses will be refunded by our customer relations team on return to the UK.”