US Airways tries to move weary, stranded travelers
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (AP) -- Airport lines were still long Monday but getting back to normal as US Airways tried to recover from a paralyzing ice storm that stranded thousands of travelers in Northeast cities over the weekend.
About 100 people spent Sunday night at Philadelphia International Airport, down from about 1,000 after the storm hit on Friday, said airport spokeswoman Phyllis VanIstendal.
The weather Monday was good and there were few cancellations or delays, she said.
"The lines are long but moving," VanIstendal said. "Hopefully this will all even out by the end of the day."
In Pittsburgh, the long lines were due to Monday's normally heavy business travel demand and "residual weather-related issues," an airport spokeswoman said.
"There's still a little bit of a line at US Airways, but not anything like there was yesterday," said JoAnn Jenny, spokeswoman for Pittsburgh International Airport said Monday morning.
US Airways, the dominant carrier at both hard-hit airports, reported Sunday that it was trying to find seats for 100,000 passengers systemwide whose travel had been interrupted by the storm that hit the Northeast. The company said it was headed back toward normal operations Monday.
"We were able to reaccommodate most of our passengers yesterday," US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder said.
The airline was also facing a huge backlog of baggage, with hundreds of bags in the Philadelphia luggage claim area on Monday morning. Wunder said the airline was using several trucks to deliver bags to customers' homes.
Many US Airways customers were diverted to its largest hub, Charlotte, N.C., on Friday when the storm dumped snow, sleet, ice and freezing rain on Philadelphia, New York and other Northeast cities, the airline said.
Airport officials said between 200 and 300 people spent Sunday night there.
Computer problems, airline staffing rules and other problems slowed US Airways' attempts to clear the backlog. Meanwhile, 275,000 passengers were already booked on US Airways flights on Sunday that were nearly sold out from the start in part because of spring break.
From Friday to Saturday morning, more than 3,600 flights were canceled nationwide because of the storm. In addition to US Airways, JetBlue, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines canceled flights.
The storm stranded hundreds of passengers at New York's Kennedy International Airport, including hundreds stuck on planes Friday night as aircraft were unable to take off or find space at gates.
By Sunday, there were only scattered delays of up to two hours at New York's Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, with some delays of up five hours at Newark Liberty, said Alan Hicks, spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Dan Stacey, 34, of Philadelphia, was at the airport Sunday trying to find his luggage. An Irish fiddler, he had tried Friday to fly to Phoenix, where he was slated to perform in four St. Patrick's Day concerts over the weekend.
Instead, he said he sat in a US Airways plane on the Philadelphia tarmac for eight hours before it returned to the gate.
"I lamented the fact that I was the only Irish musician in America not working on St. Patty's day," Stacey said.
He then went home -- but found out Sunday that his luggage went to Phoenix anyway.
Source - AP