NEW YORK (AP) — Superstorm Sandy grounded more than 10,000 flights across the Northeast and the globe, and it could be days before some passengers can get where they’re going.
According to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, more than 13,500 flights were canceled for Monday and Tuesday, almost all related to the storm. By early Tuesday morning, more than 500 flights scheduled for Wednesday also were canceled.
Major carriers such as American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines canceled all flights into and out of three New York-area airport, the nation’s busiest airspace. About one-quarter of all U.S. flights travel to or from New York airports each day, so cancelations here can dramatically impact travel in other cities.
Delays rippled across the U.S., affecting travelers in cities from San Francisco to Atlanta. Others attempting to fly out of Europe and Asia also were stuck.
Narita, the international airport near Tokyo, canceled 11 flights Tuesday — nine to the New York area and two to Washington. All Nippon Airways set up a special counter at Narita to deal with passengers whose flights had been canceled.
“All flights to New York yesterday and today are canceled. What will happen tomorrow no one knows,” airline spokeswoman Megumi Tezuka said.
Sandy caused Eric Danielson to miss his first day of work at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. He thought he would be looking at a two-hour layover in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on his way from San Francisco to Norfolk, Va.
But Sandy changed his schedule. “Now it’s beginning to be a 28-hour layover until tomorrow,” he said Monday.
Hurricane Sandy converged with a cold-weather system and made landfall over New Jersey on Monday evening with 80 mph winds. The monstrous hybrid of rain and high wind — and even snow in some mountainous inland areas — killed at least 16 people in seven states, cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses from the Carolinas to Ohio, caused scares at two nuclear power plants and stopped the presidential campaign cold.
The storm was forecast to head across Pennsylvania before taking another sharp turn into western New York by Wednesday morning, bringing heavy rain and local flooding.
The flight cancelations were on par with a major winter storm in early 2011 that forced 14,000 flights to be scrapped over four days.
Businessman Alan Shrem was trying to return home to Boca Raton, Fla. His Monday morning Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to New York’s Kennedy Airport was canceled.
He learned he could be stuck in Hong Kong for nearly a week because the next available seat was Nov. 4. He was put on a waiting list for seats that could become available earlier.
“They just say: Yeah, it’s a pretty big waiting list,” said Mr. Shrem, throwing up his hands. In the meantime, he’ll have to fork out $400 a night to continue staying at a nearby hotel. The airline won’t pay for accommodation for stranded passengers if delays are weather-related.
Even if storm damage is minor, it could be a week before operations are normal at major East Coast airports, said Angela Gittens, director general of the Airports Council International, a trade group for airports worldwide.