Busy Travel Day Snarled By Snow, Passengers Stranded

Some air passengers endured nightmare delays as a blizzard dropped up to 18 inches of snow on the Northeast and travelers tried to get home from the Christmas holiday break.

Airports shut down in Washington, Philadelphia and New York. But there were storm-caused delays and canceled flights elsewhere too as carriers moved planes around to avoid the storm.

There were reports of air passengers stranded overnight at airports and booking into airport hotels including in New York – though many people just stayed away from anticipated chaos, extending their Christmas holiday and trying to rebook flights to a later time.

In New York, cots were set up at LaGuardia Airport and there were reports of some people sleeping on empty baggage carousels.

Eric Schorr was one of the ones stranded -- but in his case on a plane. He said he sat on an El Al flight in New York from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. The plane had been scheduled to take off for Tel Aviv, got delayed, then got stuck on the tarmac as the snow came blasting down.

In Boston, one passenger told WHDH-TV, "I got in approximately 12 p.m. [Sunday] and I'm going to be here until 9:45 if not 2 o'clock [Monday]. I flew in from Rome. I was lucky enough to have (flown in) - on my way to Rome Delta lost my bags and on the way here they broke the bags I checked again. So now I'm stuck here for another - it was 19 hours when I started - so I just have a couple more hours to go."

The airlines collectively canceled more than 2,000 flights Sunday and today including from the New York airports and scrambled to rebook thousands of air passengers. They did not expect normal service to resume until at least Wednesday.

American Airlines spokesman Ed Martell tells AOL Travel News today is a "moving target" in terms of cancellations. "Our last word from Systems Operations Control [an internal dept.] is that we will cancel 236 mainline and 175 American Eagle flights today, but that could change."

He says American is also calling in more staff to help address customer needs.

"We had so many calls yesterday that we ran out of lines to answer them. We're getting more lines up and bringing more staff in," Martell says. "Tomorrow is our rebuilding day. We're hoping to see something approaching normal on Wednesday."

United canceled 175 flights today, says spokeswoman Sarah Massier. "We have extended our waiver [for rebooking without penalty] through tomorrow."

Delta Air Lines spokesman Trebor Banstetter says the carrier canceled about 700 flights systemwide, focused primarily in the Northeast.

"Customers whose flights are cancelled will be notified directly but we do encourage customers flying to or from the Northeast tomorrow to check ahead before traveling to the airport," Banstetter says.

States of emergency were declared in six states. Train and bus service came to a halt in the blizzard too.

According to the FAA, the list of airport closures/openings is as follows [Last Updated: 4:45 p.m.]:

Closed, date and time of reopening unknown:
Caldwell-Wright (Essex County, N.J.)
Tweed-New Haven (Conn.)
Morristown Municipal (N.J.)

Closed, expected to reopen today:
Long Island MacArthur, 12/27, 1.p.m.
Atlantic City, 12/27, 6 p.m.
New York John F Kennedy, 6 p.m.
Newark Liberty International, 6 p.m.
Long Island MacArthur, 5 p.m.
LaGuardia, 4 p.m.

Incoming traffic delayed due to assorted other weather (winds, low clouds):
San Francisco

(Michele McDonald contributed to this report.)

Photos, Associated Press

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