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LaGuardia airport and others reopen, but stranded fliers still face ordeals

LaGuardia airport, JFK airport, and Liberty airport are all open again after the 2010 blizzard, but many travelers are still days from catching a flight home.

By Staff writer / December 27, 2010

Passengers wait at LaGuardia airport as snow falls in New York Dec. 26.

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LaGuardia airport reopened late this afternoon, and Newark's Liberty airport and New York's JFK airport were scheduled to do the same starting at 6 p.m. – but that doesn't mean the delays related to Sunday's snow storm are over.

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The welcome resumption of flights still leaves thousands of travelers delayed – rebooked for later in the week or in doubt about when they'll fly.

Holiday travel chaos is nothing new, of course, but that's before a major blizzard lands right atop some of the nation's busiest airports right on the Sunday after Christmas.

The three major airports were closed much of Monday, affecting incoming as well as outbound passengers.

For a window on the storm's impact on travelers, we took a look at posts on the website Twitter. The comments are attributed to the name or handle that each messager uses.

  • "27 hours @ JFK and no flight in sight," posts Melissa Thompson. She includes a photo of crowds in an American Airlines section of a terminal. In another tweet she signals that she's found temporary refuge at a nearby Holiday Inn.
  • Katie McHugh arrived "fingers crossed" this afternoon at JFK hoping her flight to London will take off in "eight hours."
  • "From DC, Boston, Philly ... anywhere?" asked Christin Roman, seeking a roundabout way back to the New York area. Paul Cebulak at least found a way – albeit not direct or soon: "My canceled flight to Newark today was quietly changed to a red-eye on Dec. 30 via Cleveland."

And then there is the case of Jason Cochran, a travel writer for AOL, who found himself unexpectedly tweeting and becoming a TV celebrity while stranded John F. Kennedy Airport.

"Seems like everyone knew planes couldn't fly today. Everyone except @VirginAtlantic. Now we're stranded on tarmac. Oh yes, babies screaming," he wrote Sunday. In subsequent tweets he describes getting back to the gate after 4-1/2 hours, not being able to get his luggage, and "Now the Wok & Roll has run out of egg rolls. Will the indignities never cease?"

On Monday, he recounts that "Yes, @VirginAtlantic has handed out food vouchers, but all the restaurants are swarmed and nearly out of food. Useless."

And, as he continues to hope that his flight will get to leave Monday night, Mr. Cochran finds himself getting an unexpected honor: "Um, what? CNN has named me one of Monday's "Most Intriguing People." Thanks!"

If his are some of the most publicized views on Twitter, he's not alone in expressing a blend of frustration, fortitude, humor.

  • "We're stranded. Can't get back to NYC until the 3rd. Closest/soonest is Philly on the 31st. Ugh," posted Edward McElvain, traveling in the Midwest, late Monday afternoon, looking for recommendations for what to do in Wisconsin. "Any food/hotel recos for Milwaukee?"
  • Maggie Walsh, who labels herself an "extremely professional alpaca farmer," now doubts whether she'll be able to make to New York for New Year's Eve. Her biggest worry: Her mom will make it and she won't.

Some of the stories have happy elements, and more should have happy endings as wind and snow recedes and runways resume their normal traffic.

"So glad I am not sleeping at the airport from this delay. Thx @americanAirline for taken care of your passengers," John Lo wrote. The Brooklyn-based wedding photographer found himself stuck in Rochester while trying to fly home.


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