Some East Coast Airports Open But Long Waits Likely For Passengers Of 16K Canceled Flights

While New York City’s major airports are still shut down for an indefinite amount of time, some airports on the East Coast are starting to send planes out after canceling almost 16,000 flights over the last few days. The bad news? Passengers from those canceled flights are likely going to be stuck for a while longer, as airlines honor tickets for passengers with existing reservations first. 

Certain airlines will resume flights late today and on Wednesday, reports USA Today, as service starts back up again slowly. But it’s going to likely be weeks before flights are running smoothly again. Some experts are warning that the fallout from superstorm Sandy will be worse than the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

A spokesman for American Airlines says it all depends on when airports reopen.

“It may take several days once we are able to reopen for everything to return to normal,” she says. “That can be frustrating to a customer, but our goal is to get our customers to where they need to go as quickly and as safely as possible.”

JetBlue says it will be operating some flights in Washington and Boston on Tuesday, but  the NYC area flights still fall under the “indefinite” category. Says a spokeswoman:

“We will have some flights for customers today, but we will prioritize getting aircraft and crew in position for resumption of schedule in those areas tomorrow. The availability of public transportation will also play into the New York plan, too, so it remains very, very fluid.”

United expects inbound flights to resume for Washington Dulles today, and NYC area airports on Wednesday afternoon, while Delta is also resuming flights in Washington and Boston but not NYC.

US Airways canceled all Washington to Boston flights for today and any flights heading to Philadelphia from Europe will stay across the Atlantic until Wednesday.

“Our goal now is to resume operations at all locations on Wednesday morning,” says a spokesman. “Obviously that will depend on the weather and assessing any damage that this storm may cause.”

Airlines are suggesting trying to change tickets online because of high call volumes. Flights are going to be pretty packed for the foreseeable future, as the Transportation Department says planes are flying the fullest on record with an average of 87% capacity.

Basically, hang in there. It’s not going to be pretty.

Flights slowly resume, but finding seats is tricky [USA Today]