Air and rail passengers hoping to travel on Saturday are encountering yet another day of cancellations and delays as the nor’easter that snarled travel Friday is being followed by residual problems in transportation hubs all across the Northeast.
Airline officials say flight operations are slowly returning to normal, as they deal with the backlog of passengers from thousands of canceled and delayed flights Friday. There were more than 3,000 flights canceled and another 4,800 delayed, according to FlightAware.com, most with destinations or departures in the Northeast Corridor, where the nor’easter landed blows from Virginia to Maine.
The storm also disrupted service on the heavily used Amtrak rail service along the corridor. High winds fell trees along the electric-powered rail line between Washington and Boston on Friday, causing service disruptions and cancellations. Amtrak continued to work at getting full service back up, saying service between Washington and New York would be suspended until at least 9 a.m., with no further updates since.
While winds in the Washington area have calmed down enough to allow for the airports to return to normal operations, hundreds of flights were canceled Saturday morning, with most disruptions at hubs in Boston, New York and Philadelphia. On Saturday, airport officials in Washington urged travelers to check with airlines before heading to the airport.
The airlines still are working to accommodate passengers from canceled or delayed flights from Friday. In New York, the East Coast’s primary transportation hub, thousands of travelers were left stranded, with more than 1,000 flights canceled at Newark, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports, and more than 300 flights in Washington were canceled on Friday.
“Pretty much everyone on the plane threw up. Pilots were on the verge of throwing up,” a pilot said in an urgent report from a regional jetliner from Charlottesville, Virginia. The United Fight 3833 was descending into Washington’s Dulles around 7:38 a.m., and experienced moderate to severe turbulence at or around 4,000 feet, airport officials said.
Many airlines waived change fees for flights for those affected. Travelers should check with their respective airlines. American, Delta, United and Southwest airlines – the four biggest carriers in the country – have flexible change policies for travel to the Northeast because of the storm.
“One thing we can’t control is the weather,” American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein said.
American canceled more than 1,600 flights in the Northeast on Friday. About 24 percent of the carrier’s global operations are being affected by the storm, Feinstein said. About 270 flights had been canceled Saturday, he said.
“We anticipate some residual delays” and cancellations on Saturday, he said.
United Airlines said it canceled more than 100 flights in the Northeast on Friday and was operating on a reduced schedule through the afternoon. Delta said it canceled 750 flights to and from the Northeast on Friday and more disruptions were possible.
The storm downed trees and power lines all along the region, closing highways and bridges and snarling traffic. In Maryland, officials more than 500 workers were deployed Saturday on cleanup and signal restoration efforts, but it would take at least a week to get all 400 roads affected back to normal.
“The wind advisories have dropped off, we are still expecting a gusty day impacting operations and clean up efforts are focused on getting roads opened first, then clear shoulders, all with priority routes first,” the Maryland State Highway Administration said via Twitter.
The Washington Post’s Lori Aratani and Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this report.