Grounded fliers’ rage is terminal
By REBECCA HARSHBARGER, LEN MANIACE and BILL SANDERSON
Last Updated: 6:17 AM, December 29, 2010
Posted: 1:40 AM, December 29, 2010
Furious fliers spent another hellish day stranded on jam-packed jets or in busy airport terminals as carriers struggled to cope with the fallout from Sunday’s blizzard.
After flying thousands of miles at speeds faster than 500 mph, it was the last few yards that proved impassable for hundreds aboard three international flights on the tarmac at Kennedy Airport.
“I know the city is undergoing a blizzard, but sitting on the tarmac for 12 hours is fairly unacceptable,” said Jeff Chong, who was left to rot with fellow passengers after Cathay Pacific Flight 888 landed from Vancouver at 2:15 a.m. yesterday. “There has to be a contingency plan.”
Chong, a 34-year-old Vancouver resident, said they were told “there were no gates available.”
Other passengers waited 10 hours to deplane Cathay Pacific Flight 830, which arrived at Kennedy Airport at 11 p.m. Monday from Hong Kong.
“This is the longest I’ve ever had to sit on a plane,” said Jonathan Brooks, 24, of Boston. “I don’t think anyone has ever sat on a plane longer.”
A British Airways flight arrived from London at around 10 p.m. Monday — but its passengers were stuck on the tarmac until 6 a.m., when Customs crews were finally available to handle them.
A Port Authority spokesman said the airlines dispatched flights without making certain landing gates were available.
New federal rules imposing big fines on airlines that park passenger-filled planes for longer than three hours don’t apply to international flights.
In the terminals at Kennedy and La Guardia, testy travelers slept on cots as they waited for airlines to do something about their plight.
At JFK’s Air France gates, passengers yesterday afternoon got so angry with airline personnel that security personnel feared violence would ensue, one worker told The Post.
“Some of the passengers are getting really rowdy, there is nobody to check the bags, passengers are really cranky,” said the employee, who only revealed his first name, Daniel.
“We’re very short-staffed. This is the most crowded terminal I’ve ever seen, this is the volcano.”
Bronx resident Mara Ayora, stuck at La Guardia on her way to Ecuador to attend a high-school reunion, spent Monday night sleeping on a cot.
When she called ahead, the airline said her flights were not canceled. “This is crazy,” said Ayora, 29, who expects to be on her way today.
Toronto resident Imelda Cayone slept overnight at La Guardia with her husband and two daughters while they waited for a flight home.
Cayone said New York’s snow cleanup “is not impressive. It doesn’t seem to be systematic.”
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