Newark, NJ — The weather grounded many airline travelers’ plans Tuesday.
The airport hardest hit by this week’s storm was none other than Newark Liberty. About 30% of flights were canceled and another 30% were delayed.
Inside Terminal B, it was one sad story after another.
“Terrible. I’m so sad. I work seven days a week. I want to be at the beach,” said Rosie Tetoma of Long Island.
“They canceled a 2 p.m. flight. They put us on a 6 p.m. flight, canceled the 6, and now we can’t leave until Friday,” said Steve Roppoli of Mississippi.
Check your flight status
CBS New York captured passengers stacking desks, chairs and even luggage carts without a seat in the sky.
“We slept on a little bit of everything. It’s the most comfortable I’ve ever slept all night. I’ve slept on the floor. I’ve tried sleeping on horrible chairs, carpet. I really don’t care. Carpet,” said Omit Hackneygather of Los Angeles.
Brothers Omit and Kian tried to return to the West Coast. While they understand the hundreds of delays and cancellations in the tri-state area alone due to severe weather since Sunday, they said the airlines’ decision-making is a bit confusing.
“Our brother, actually, his departure was today. We were supposed to leave yesterday. He left before us,” said Kian Hagnegather.
Drew Kanesa said he’s willing to drive 16 hours home to Orlando, Florida, or take a 23-hour train ride. But at Newark Airport, both options were sold out.
“I have two kids at home, so I have to get them home and go back to my job if they haven’t fired me yet,” Kanesa said.
His flight was canceled and the next option wasn’t until Thursday. The airline did not help find accommodation or pay for it.
“The extra cost of a hotel room, another flight, all of that, I mean, it adds up,” Kanesa said.
When passengers blow up airlines, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby blames the problems on the Federal Aviation Administration.
In an email to employees, Kirby wrote, “I am … frustrated that the FAA has apparently failed. … As you know, the weather we saw at EWR is something the FAA has historically been able to manage with little to no facility. A serious impact on our operations and customers.”
The FAA pushed back with a statement saying, “We will always cooperate with anyone who actively wants to join us in solving a problem.”
Bill McGee is a senior fellow for aviation at the American Economic Freedom Program. He says no airline is in a position to point fingers.
“You’re better protected on an American airline in Brussels or Paris than you are in Atlanta or Dallas. Think about the irony of that,” McGee said.
That’s because most other countries have rights for air travelers, he says.
“If there’s a delay, you get food. If there’s a cancellation, you get a hotel, and there’s no discussion. They’re mandated by the government to do that,” McGee said.
Connecticut Sen. Introduced by Richard Blumenthal.
“The best protection against these unnecessary cancellations and delays,” Blumenthal said.
If it doesn’t pass, he believes there will be many more days like this at the airport.
“There’s a lot of people in our nation’s capital for the airline lobby, but there’s a lot of people on our side, and the longer they wait at the gates to take off, the more they’re going to be angry.” Blumenthal said.
The Port Authority advises travelers to check their flight status before heading to the airport, but that tip doesn’t help those catching connecting flights like Liz Gillard, who said she’s already missed three days of her stay in Tokyo. holiday
“First, something broke. Then, we got on another plane. Then, it started raining. Then, we got off and it was canceled,” said Gillat, of Washington, DC.
Suffering seems far away. More rain is expected in the coming days, possibly extending into the weekend, and many of these travelers may not be flying out until Friday.