There have been thousands of flight delays and cancellations this week in the Northeast US due to a powerful winter storm. The disruption has meant that thousands of travellers were left stranded at airports and hotels, while many people have been stuck in their homes as the storm passes. It doesn’t look like all will go back to schedule today either, as meteorologists are expecting more rain, snow and wind across the region.
According to reports, over 400 flights to, from and within the US were cancelled on Thursday in the early morning. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that, at LaGuardia Airport in New York, some flights were delayed by an hour on average. Philadelphia International Airport spokeswoman Victoria Lupica told journalists that 60 of its flights were cancelled, following the cancellation of 300 flights on Wednesday. Officials for some smaller airports said that, while their airports were open, only about half of the scheduled flights were operating.
On Wednesday, about 13% of services to both airports in the Washington, DC area were cancelled, while 22% were grounded at LaGuardia and 47% cancelled in Cleveland. By midmorning on Thursday, nearly half of ExpressJet’s flights had been scrapped, while United Airlines grounded 4% of its schedule. More than 25% of American Airlines’ services were scrapped, and nearly 32% of American Eagle’s flights were cancelled. However, less than 10% of services operated by JetBlue Airways, Delta Air Lines, US Airways and Southwest Airlines had been scrubbed.
While the situation has been frustrating to passengers, it has also taken a toll on airline staff. An American Airlines pilot told his passengers on Tuesday evening that he was sorry for the incompetence of his bosses. The plane had been sitting at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport for almost seven hours. He said he didn’t have words to tell the passengers how sorry he was, but the situation was way above their heads and in the hands of people he believed didn’t have a clue as to what they were doing. The comments were made while a passenger was on the phone with a news station.
American Airlines said that it was concentrating on de-icing the aircraft and making sure everyone was safe. Tuesday was a very challenging day at the airport due to a substantial amount of delays and cancellations from icy weather in North Texas. They apologise for the inconvenience, it added. Matt Miller, a spokesman for the carrier, noted that the pilot isn’t expected to be disciplined for his comments.
While air travellers were having a hard time with getting flights, many road and rail travellers were finding it just as difficult to get around. Many roads were impassable, with over 1,000 crew clearing Massachusetts streets and authorities warning of tough driving conditions in Vermont. The National Weather Service has warned that travel in Maine is very hazardous due to strong winds and heavy snow. New York and New Jersey authorities also reported local traffic accidents and delays with rail services.
Meteorologists have issued storm advisories for the region, as the snow was expected to hit one foot by this morning. The forecast for Saturday is snowy for the entire region as well. When flights do start returning to normal, it will take a little while for the backlog of passengers to be ironed out.