During a second day of travel chaos in the US due to Sandy, the hurricane-turned-superstorm, thousands of British holidaymakers were stranded. The biggest storm in the country’s history has left some eight million people without power and forced airlines to cancel a total of more than 15,000 domestic and international flights. Passengers have been advised to check the status of their flights before heading to the airport, while there’s no telling how long this travel disruption will last.
Yesterday, British Airways cancelled 15 flights to and from the US East Coast, for the exception of Boston flights. Those services returned to normal with 9:50am and 1:36pm flights. A spokesman said that the safety of their customers remains their biggest priority. After advice from authorities in the US, they have decided to axe 15 return flights for the day. They will do all they can to help passengers who have been affected and will look to use bigger planes on some routes when they resume their full flight schedule to help customers get to their destination as soon as possible. He added that they are operating and providing advice to customers based on advice from US authorities.
Virgin Atlantic cancelled all services taking off and landing at John F. Kennedy and Newark airports, warning that early flights for today would be cancelled as well. A spokesman said that details of the arrangements can be found on their website – including extended hotel-stay compensation and rebooking information. Their US flights were very busy at the start of the week because of half-term. It’s unfortunate the storm has happened now. The safety of their crew and passengers is their top priority, and they are keeping in contact with local authorities to assess the situation and keep disruption to a minimum. They thank customers for their patience and are sorry for the inconvenience.
A total of 84 flights were cancelled yesterday from Heathrow Airport to the US East Coast – including 47 arrivals and 37 departures. However, overall there were over 6,000 Tuesday flights cancelled. Before the afternoon, airlines had announced 5,000 flight cancellations for Wednesday. This left leisure and business travellers stranded. This came as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey closed the area’s three major airports. And although airlines suspended operations at Strewart International, the airport remained open. It could be days before some air passengers are finally able to catch flights.
Tuesday’s travel chaos follows thousands of passengers being left stranded on Monday due to mass cancellations. The US-Western Europe route is one of the world’s busiest, with 2.6 million people flying between Heathrow and JFK last year alone. Every day, nearly 14,200 travellers fly from JFK to London, Madrid, Paris and Frankfurt.
Sandy has caused more travel chaos than the major winter storm last year that forced the cancellation of 14,000 flights over a four-day period. Airports Council International director general Angela Gittens says that it could be a week before airlines’ schedules are returned to normal. The storm has affected so many major airports that it will take time to recover.