Storm strands thousands at region’s airports
The first nor’easter of 2014 made a mess of travel plans, canceling hundreds of flights into and out of Logan International Airport, shutting down bus service between Boston and New York, and leaving thousands of New Englanders heading home after the holidays stranded around the country.
By Thursday afternoon, hours before the brunt of the storm was expected to hit, airlines had canceled more than 200 flights into and out of Logan, while the planes that managed to take off were delayed up to an hour. Cancellations and delays were expected to continue through Friday.
“I’ve been hearing people saying [the storm is] going to affect millions of travelers, but it’s hard to predict that right now,” said Jeanenne Tornatore, a senior editor at Orbitz, a travel website. “Certainly, you could say tens of thousands.”
One of those was Hannah Bacon, of Reading, a college junior visiting Chicago. She is stranded until Saturday, the first day she could get a flight. Her Thursday flight to Boston was canceled.
“She’s probably pretty stressed by all of this,” her mother, Kelli Bacon, said in an e-mail. “My husband’s trying to locate a room for her near O’Hare airport.”
At Logan, travelers jockeyed to get the last flights out — some, like Mike Kennedy of Alaska, abandoning vacations early. The 50-year-old account representative and his family spent the holidays in Vermont.
“We left a day early. We just packed up and said our goodbyes,” Kennedy said. “We are going back to 30 below and will be thinking about you guys.”
Logan airport officials said visibility was poor in the afternoon and would worsen as winds picked up and created blizzard conditions. While the airport planned to stay open, many airlines had grounded planes. Nearly 1,100 flights use the facility daily.
JetBlue Airways, the largest carrier at Logan, said the storm forced it to cancel close to 300 flights in New England and New York, including 91 flights into and out of Boston Thursday and 79 Friday. It was waiving cancelation and flight-change fees for customers traveling on those days.
“We are doing our utmost to keep customers updated,” said spokesman Anders Lindstrom. “Pending the weather situation and airport operations, the number of cancellations might increase tomorrow.”
Brittany Hanscom, a Lynn native who lives in Florida, had her Friday morning flight to Miami canceled by JetBlue and was trying to get out of Boston Thursday. By afternoon, she had rescheduled her JetBlue flight three times to get back to her job with the Miami Dolphins football team in time for an important production meeting for the Orange Bowl, which is being held in the Dolphins’ stadium Friday night.
She had been traveling since 5 a.m., rushing back to Boston after spending New Year’s in New Jersey.
“I’ve been on a bus, subway, a train, and then walked a mile,” she said, adding that if her latest flight is canceled, “I will go back home to Lynn and hopefully not lose my job.”
Peter Pan Bus Lines also canceled services, affecting more than 40 of its routes in the Boston-New York-Hartford corridor. Those lines were expected to be suspended through at least mid-Friday.
“Anybody who has purchased tickets at this point is being affected,” said Christopher Crean, Peter Pan’s vice president of safety and security.
The cancellations were planned following Boston’s declaration of a snow emergency, which means that travel on highways will be limited and slow, Crean added. Stranded passengers will be rebooked.
“As soon as road conditions clear up we’ll get them on to their destinations.”
Amtrak planned to reduce service Friday, with Acela Express and Northeast Regional trains running between Boston and Washington less frequently, the passenger railroad said in a statement.
“Passengers holding reservations that require modification are being accommodated on other trains and proactively notified by Amtrak customer service,” the company said.
Such travel snags were upsetting plans for many, including Jeff Greenberg of Hamilton.
After a week in Boca Raton, Fla., visiting his parents, Greenberg, his wife, and two children were eager to get home. The 43-year-old sales executive worried that pipes in his house could burst if the electricity fails. His wife worried that their fish might starve to death.
“My wife is anxious to get home so we can get adjusted before the kids go back to school,” he added. “It usually takes them a while to get adjusted to regular life.”
Still — like a lot of others who found themselves on a slightly extended vacation in Florida — Greenberg found a silver lining.
“It’s a nice place to be stuck,” he said before joking that “I’m very excited to get back to snow blow our driveway.”