Passengers Stranded At Area Airports From Storm Hoping To Catch New Flights

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Passengers who were stranded at area airports during Tuesday’s late winter storm are hoping to finally catch a flight out on Wednesday.

Nearly 3,000 flights were canceled Tuesday at LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark Liberty airports, but airlines have been working to book passengers on new flights.

As CBS2 Political Reporter explained, there were 50,000 passengers crammed into LaGuardia on Wednesday, which led to some frayed tempers, but a new bag of tricks from the Port Authority is aimed at easing travel trouble.

The airport became a beehive of activity on what is normally a slow day.

“All the other flights are booked so they have to book us on Friday,” passenger Lisa Pierce said. “My vacation ends Wednesday, so I’m spending half of my vacation in this airport.”

“We can’t do anything about it,” tourist Seven Raymond told CBS2’s Ali Bauman. “For anything you can’t do anything about, you might as well, chill and relax.”

The Port Authority said travelers should expect significant vehicle traffic for the rest of the work week at LaGuardia, where 99 percent of its flights were canceled Tuesday. About 200 flights were canceled Wednesday morning.

Officials said many of Wednesday’s flights are already fully booked and said travelers without confirmed reservations for a flight should not come to the airport.

One traveler named Olivia said her flight out of LaGuardia was canceled Tuesday and rebooked for Wednesday, but when she arrived, she was notified her flight had been canceled again.

“I just think it’s ridiculous that they didn’t notify us of any of this,” she told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria. “I am just trying to scream right now and cry.”

John Lawson’s flight was canceled Tuesday, he has a reservation for Thursday and is on standby Wednesday.

“There’s like two flights… everyone’s trying to get out, it’s just not looking good,” said Lawson, who’s anxious to get home to Dallas.

The rush created lots of traffic and a handful of people walked to the airport including an airline captain.

Still, it was a marked improvement from the massive tied ups of the last six months caused by the $4-billion redevelopment of the airport, and the nightmare after the storm last month, when traffic backed up for miles and passengers and flight crews were forced to make desperate and dangerous treks to get to their flights.

After CBS2 began demanding answers, the Port Authority hired ‘Gridlock’ Sam Schwartz to suggest ways to ‘ungridlock’ the airport.

One of the new innovations is an army of traffic enforcement agents at 94th Street to keep traffic flowing into and out of the airport.

“It’s chaos, and today’s a slow day,” traffic agent Eddie Bonet said, “We’re trying out here. We’re trying.”

Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foy told CBS2 the agency used, “every trick in the playbook” with some success. He said there was only a one hour period when the traffic flow was code yellow instead of green.

“The traffic is moving and that’s what the green condition represents, and it is not in the long term the level of service we want to provide,” Foy said.

The Port Authority said it expects heavy traffic at the airport all week and is urging passengers to allow extra time.

Uber Pool has offered a $10 fare from the airport to any location in the five boros. The Port Authority is negotiating with other car companies to offer the same service.

Passengers with flights are still being urged to check with their airlines and leave plenty of time before heading to the airport.

In addition, travelers are being advised to use mass transit for the rest of the week to help reduce congestion. The Port Authority said the Q70 LaGuardia Bus Link will be free through Friday.

Even though the MTA is offering free buses, some passengers have complained that service has been slow.

“It came a half hour later and there were a lot of people,” said traveler Konul Jafarova.

“It’s a lot of frustration going on, passengers want to get home, I want to get home,” said passenger Eddie Rodriguez. “I have a sick family member I want to get to and it’s hard.”

For more information and current conditions from the Port Authority, click here.

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