Hundreds of flights were canceled to and from airports in the New York metropolitan region Monday and Tuesday, snarling air travel internationally and causing misery for stranded flyers.
According to FlightAware, a site that tracks delays and cancellations internationally, around 540 departing and arriving flights through LaGuardia, JFK and Newark airports were canceled Monday, and another 1,752 flights were delayed.
Scott Ladd, a spokesperson for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, blamed a trifecta of issues for the mess Monday into Tuesday: a surge in post-pandemic summer travel, disruptive thunderstorms Monday afternoon and understaffing.
“The Port Authority continues to work closely with the airlines and the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] to improve overall efficiency and the customer experience at its airports to address these issues,” Ladd said in a statement.
Meredith McKenzie, who declined to give her age, said she’d spent 24 hours at JFK after she missed a connecting flight from Los Angeles while trying to return to her home state of Maine. During that time, two additional flights were canceled, one due to weather and a second because of a late crew. She was finally scheduled on a flight for 8 a.m. Tuesday.
“Feeling a little delirious,” she tweeted, describing the situation as “quite horrendous.” She added: “Waiting and rebooking and gate changes between terminals. Just a nightmare. No hotel vouchers, even though [the] 10 p.m. flight [was] canceled for late crew.”
Catherine Salm, a spokesperson for Delta Air Lines, blamed a combination of weather, air traffic control and unscheduled absences, for that airlines’ 42 cancellations across the country Monday.
“Canceling a flight is always our last resort, and we sincerely apologize to our customers for the inconvenience to their travel plans,” she said in a statement.
American Airlines tweeted in response to one traveler who took to Twitter to vent.
“Weather delays are frustrating for all of us as they really put … a wrench in our operations,” the airline said. “We’re terribly sorry for the cancellation, we try our hardest to avoid this at all costs.”
Sarah Giannattasio, 34, her husband and their 11-year-old son got a fitful sleep on an airport bench Monday night after their Delta flight was canceled. The airline never told passengers why. She spoke with Gothamist from the airport Tuesday morning.
I’m tired, smelly. I wanna shower. I wanna change my clothes. I’m trying to keep my spirits up. It’s been a long day.
“I’m tired, smelly. I wanna shower. I wanna change my clothes,” she said. “I’m trying to keep my spirits up. It’s been a long day.”
The family was fed up by Tuesday morning and had rented a car to drive from New York to Baltimore where they live, but since 5 a.m. they’d been trying, with no success, to reclaim their baggage from the airline.
Giannattasio urged any people with summer travel plans to build in buffer days in case they, too, become stranded, and she urged travelers not to take out their frustrations on the exhausted airline workers.
“It’s not their fault,” she said. “Try and remember these poor people are overworked as it is.”