- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 15, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) — JetBlue Airways Corp. tried to calm a maelstrom of criticism yesterday, after passengers were left waiting on planes at a New York airport for as long as 11 hours during a snow-and-ice storm.

The airline said 10 incoming and outbound flights at John F. Kennedy International Airport were “significantly delayed” with customers on board during Wednesday’s storm. Reasons included congestion, frozen equipment and an effort to keep planes ready to go in case the weather eased, said JetBlue spokesman Bryan Baldwin.

More than 250 of JetBlue’s roughly 500 flights nationwide were canceled Wednesday, but “fairly normal” service resumed yesterday, he said.

Calling Wednesday’s delays “unacceptable,” the airline planned to offer the affected passengers refunds and free flights.

To Cheryl Chesner, 26, “unacceptable” was hardly the word for the 11 hours she said she and her husband, Seth, 27, spent trying to take a JetBlue flight to Aruba for their honeymoon.

“It was the worst. It was horrific,” she said.

Mr. Baldwin said the Aruba flight, scheduled to leave at 8 a.m. Wednesday, ultimately left late Wednesday night. But the Chesners went home to the Bronx.

While they waited to take off, John Farrell waited to arrive. His JetBlue flight from Fort Myers, Fla., landed at 10 a.m., but passengers didn’t get off until nearly 7 p.m., he said.

Onboard the planes, snack foods wore out their welcome, bathrooms became unpleasant and cabins sweltered, passengers said.

“They had to open the door every 20 minutes just so we could get air,” said Sean Corrinet, 29, who was on a flight bound for Cancun, Mexico.

It was delayed for at least eight hours, Mr. Baldwin said.

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