Depending on their attitude, air travelers along the east coast awoke Sunday to either a a dreamy post holiday winter wonderland or a winter travel nightmare. Today things got even worse, as people were trapped in airplanes on eastern airport tarmacs or terminals.
In an interview aired on MSNBC, Kate Hanni, executive director of FlyersRights.org, people have been stranded for hours without access to food or water.
Sunday, nearly 2,000 U.S. flights were grounded. Almost every major U.S. airline has instituted some sort of flexible rebooking policy as a major winter storm has paralyzed air travel at major airports from Boston to the Carolinas.
Today, flights at the three New York City airports were halted for much of the day, where some 4,000 flights have been canceled so far. Airport and airline officials said it could take days before weary travelers could be accommodated on future flights.
Same thing in Philadelphia, where runways were open today, but most flights were canceled anyway due to destination airports being closed. Airport spokeswoman Victoria Lupica said around 600 or 70 percent of flights have been canceled today, and more cancellations are expected due to strong winds gaining speed this afternoon.
“FlyersRights advice is if you can avoid travel today, please stay safely home and re-schedule your flights or ground travel,” Hanni said. “The airlines are cancelling flights because it’s unsafe to fly, but driving in winter storm conditions is even less safe…so stay put if you can.”
FlyersRights.org encourages travelers to “re-accommodate” their flights with the airlines and if they need any assistance or run in to “roadblocks” to call FlyersRights.org at 1-877-359-3776 for toll free, entirely free help.
FlyersRights.org was formed to support in 2006, when a Napa, California Realtor, Kate Hanni, was stranded with her husband and two children for 9 hours on the tarmac in Austin, Texas. The victim of a sexual assault just months before, Kate vowed never to be a victim again – and she fought back, vowing to organize other passengers to pass the long-stalled Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights.
The bill, which has been stalled in Congress since at least 1999, allows passengers the option of getting off delayed planes after 3 hours on the ground, and requires airlines to provide adequate food, water, temperature controls, ventilation and working toilets to accommodate a 3-hour delay.