A winter storm that hit the east coast Sunday will affect holiday travelers all week. Thousands of passengers were stuck in Detroit and other cities throughout the world waiting for major airports in New York and New Jersey to open.
At 3:50 p.m. Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration said LaGuardia Airport was scheduled to reopen at 4 p.m. JFK and Newark International airports were expected to re-open at 6 p.m. Monday.
Robin Lodell of Memphis is luckier than her cousin stranded in New York, but told WWJ’s Ron Dewey planning ahead let her avoid the long lines.
“I have a carry-on, so I don’t need to check my luggage, these people need to be here ahead two hours,” she said.
Other travellers were not as fortunate. Eric Hargetsetel of Norway–where snow is always a given–hopes to catch a flight later today to New York, where JFK and LaGuardia airports were shut down by ongoing blizzards.
“We thought we might have left the snow behind…but obviously, we didn’t,” he said.
Tkes Tutis who was flying from eastern Europe on business with partners had to take the scenic route.
“We were planning to fly out of Amsterdam to Boston, but the flight was canceled so we had to book here, now we going to see when we can fly to Boston,” he said. “The earliest we were told was 1:50 p.m. so it sounds reasonable. Will it be reality, we’ll have to wait and see.”
Once the airports reopen, people will have a hard time finding room on later flights. Seats are already scarce because of the busy holiday season, and airlines are operating fewer flights than they did before the recession.
Airlines have to get their planes back to the Northeast before they can fly stranded travelers. They may also have to ferry pilots and flight attendants into the affected areas.
American Airlines spokesman Ed Martelle said if the weather clears by Tuesday, the airline can resume a normal schedule by Wednesday. He declined to say how long stuck passengers might wait for an empty seat.
“Any airline scheduler will tell you it’s like playing with a jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces keep changing shape,” he said. “In some cases we can’t give them a new seat because we don’t know” when one will be available.
Boston’s Logan Airport spokesman Phil Orlandella said airlines were saying that rebooking could drag into Friday – the start of another holiday weekend.
Nearly two feet of snow fell in New York City and winds blew at nearly 60 mph overnight at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The storm dumped 12.4 inches of snow at Philadelphia International Airport – the highest snow total in the Philadelphia metropolitan region. The airport cancelled about 200 flights Monday morning and airport spokeswoman Victoria Lupica said 1,200 passengers were stranded at the airport overnight.
By midmorning, American canceled 252 flights for Monday and sister carrier American Eagle scratched another 194. Delta Air Lines canceled 700 flights, US Airways canceled 550 including regional flights, and Southwest dropped 188. United and Continental were updating their figures but had already announced nearly 300 cancelations.
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Copyright, 2010. WWJ Newsradio 950, All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.