- The Washington Times - Monday, March 19, 2007

1:15 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Airport lines were still long today but getting back to normal as US Airways tried to recover from a paralyzing ice storm that stranded thousands of travelers in Northeast cities over the weekend.

About 100 people spent last night at Philadelphia International Airport, down from about 1,000 after the storm hit Friday, said airport spokeswoman Phyllis VanIstendal.

The weather today was good, and there were few cancellations or delays, she said.

“The lines are long but moving,” she said. “Hopefully this will all even out by the end of the day.”

In Pittsburgh, the long lines were caused by normally heavy Monday business travel demand and “residual weather-related issues,” an airport spokeswoman said.

“There’s still a little bit of a line at US Airways, but not anything like there was yesterday,” said JoAnn Jenny, spokeswoman for Pittsburgh International, this morning.

US Airways, the dominant carrier at both hard-hit airports, reported yesterday that it was trying to find seats for 100,000 passengers systemwide whose travel had been interrupted by the storm in the Northeast. The company said it was headed back toward normal operations today.

“We were able to reaccommodate most of our passengers yesterday,” US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder said.

The airline also was facing a huge backlog of baggage, with hundreds of bags in the Philadelphia luggage claim area this morning. Miss Wunder said the airline was using several trucks to deliver bags to customers’ homes.

Many US Airways customers were diverted to the airline’s largest hub, Charlotte, N.C., on Friday when the storm dumped snow, sleet, ice and freezing rain on Philadelphia, New York and other Northeast cities, the airline said.

Airport officials said between 200 and 300 people spent last night there.

Computer problems, airline staffing rules and other problems slowed US Airways’ attempts to clear the backlog. Meanwhile, 275,000 passengers were booked on US Airways flights yesterday that already were nearly sold out partly because of spring break.

From Friday to Saturday morning, more than 3,600 flights were canceled nationwide because of the storm. In addition to US Airways, JetBlue, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines canceled flights.

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