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Brits Stranded in US due to Irene

Stranded PassengersHurricane Irene caused power outages, flooding and disruptions to transportation in the northeast US, resulting in thousands of British holidaymakers getting stranded there. The east coast of the country was hit by the hurricane over the weekend, and then it fell to a tropical storm as it reached New York on Sunday. Now tourists face long delays to get home.

The storm brought very strong winds and torrential rain to the region, which prevented airlines from operating flights at the four main airports across the northeast. Further delays could even come due to severe flood threats, even after the storm has passed. Among the carriers that had to cancel flights to cities throughout the region were UK-based Virgin Atlantic and British Airways. On Sunday, more than 6,000 services were cancelled, most of which affected Philadelphia, Boston and New York. The Newark Liberty International and John F Kennedy International airports were closed for the day.

Overall, however, over 9,000 flights were cancelled since the storm hit North Carolina on Saturday. Airlines were ready to get services back to normal on Monday, but there’s no telling when ‘normal’ will actually come. It could be several days for holidaymakers, as airports deal with backlogs of passengers, which could make it hard for carriers to find seats. This week being somewhat of a holiday period doesn’t help either. Monday was August bank holiday in the UK, while Americans are preparing for Labor Day holiday next Monday, September 4. Those who plan to visit the region have been advised to check with their carrier before arriving at the airport.

A spokesman for British Airways said that they have cancelled a large number of flights to the east coast of the US because of the predicted impact of Hurricane Irene. Services between Britain and Newark and JFK have been especially affected after local authorities made the decision to completely shut down the airports. Those who want to can call and claim a full refund if their flights were cancelled, while those who were supposed to fly through Tuesday can alter their booking, he added.

Virgin Atlantic advised consumers waiting to get back home from the US that they could be waiting for more than three or four days before a service is available. They regret that they have been forced to cancel flights between Britain and New York, along with some to and from Boston. They are focused on a recovery plan that will bring passengers back home, but the long wait is due to its flights being full already, it noted.

British holidaymakers have also been urged by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to follow information from local authorities, leave the area if ordered and monitor local radio and television coverage of the situation. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) noted that between 5,000 and 10,000 Brits are likely stranded in New York, as this is the most popular long-haul destination.




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