Many holidaymakers from Britain have become stranded in the US due to Hurricane Sandy. The storm actually isn’t a hurricane anymore, but now it has been dubbed Frankenstorm after merging with other major weather systems. This followed British Airways and Virgin Atlantic canceling flights from Heathrow Airport to New York and other cities on the US east coast.
On Monday night, the storm was flooding cities along the coast, where the streets look empty due to evacuations and transit systems being shut down. The Northeast is expected to get 12 inches of rain, 24 inches of snow and power outages everywhere. Photos of flooding have been posted all over the internet. States from North Carolina to Connecticut have declared state of emergencies.
In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that residents who don’t evacuate from vulnerable areas are only putting their lives in danger, as well as the lives of the first responders who will need to rescue them. Over 200 National Guardsmen will be patrolling Manhattan and another 300 will patrol in Long Island.
Since Sunday, nearly 7,500 flights have been cancelled to and from the US – and 59 of these are to and from Heathrow Airport. The airport added a warning that passengers expecting to fly to the US should check with their airline about the status of their flight before arriving at the airport.
Dozens of holidaymakers were getting in line at the hub’s Terminal 5 to be given hotel rooms after British Airways cancelled all their flights to east coast cities in the US. A British Airways spokesman said that their other flights to the US are operating as normal, along with services to Montreal and Toronto in Canada. They will be in contact with their staff in the US before deciding on what to do with today’s flights. The carrier said passengers would be able to rebook their travel or get a refund if they have been affected.
Virgin Atlantic had to cancel its Monday flights to the east coast as well, including those to and from Washington, Newark, New York and Boston. Tuesday morning services from New York and Newark to Heathrow were cancelled as well. A spokeswoman said that passengers will be able to find details about extended hotel-stay compensation and rebookings on their website. Their services to the US were very busy at the start of the week because of the half-term holiday. It’s unfortunate the storm happened when it did.
British travellers due to take internal services in the US were left with nowhere to go when carriers like American Airlines, US Airways and Delta Air Lines cancelled their flights. Brits already there were having to deal with the closure of public transport, with train and bus services in New York and Philadelphia affected the most.
Passengers have understandably become frustrated with the situation. Some families were taking a break stateside over the half-term and were gutted to find out they wouldn’t be able to go after all. Many disappointed travellers took to social networks to vent their feelings.