Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who covers criminal justice, terrorism and the courts for WNYC. She found her way into public radio after practicing law for five years, and can definitely say that walking the streets of New York City with a microphone is a lot more fun than being holed up in the office writing letters to opposing counsel.
Homeward Bound New Yorkers Stranded For Days After Blizzard
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
New York area airports are slowly groaning back to life after the blizzard. But New Yorkers trying to get home will still be stranded all over the country for days.
I joined thousands of those travelers in San Francisco who saw their flights to New York cancelled over the last three days and were told they’d have to stay put until the end of the week.
Vera Farrell of East Meadow, Long Island didn’t find out her flight to JFK was cancelled until she walked through SFO’s sliding doors on Tuesday with luggage in hand. It meant another week crashing with her nephew in Los Gatos, CA.
“I have people waiting for me at home -- friends, family,” Farrell said, “and I have a little cat that’s all by itself.”
Farrell said she actually felt left out when she saw her city digging itself out of piles of snow. She would have gladly traded a week of California climate for a chance to see a historic snowstorm face-to-face. But Larry Sun of the Upper West Side said he was all too glad to miss the messy recovery. He didn’t pack the right clothes to arrive in New York amid snow drifts and unplowed streets.
“I can pass on one blizzard and sit back in California,” said Sun, “where the weather’s nice and where I can wear a T-shirt some days.”
The only problem is, it started raining in the Bay Area on Tuesday.
More than 60 flights traveling to the New York area from SFO have been cancelled since Sunday, mostly on United Airlines, American Airlines, Jet Blue and Virgin America. Flights that were actually departing to JFK on Tuesday experienced delays close to six hours. A spokesperson from American Airlines said delays into Newark airport were reaching eight hours. Flights from San Francisco to La Guardia, where airline agents say only one runway is fully functional, were departing on time.
The ripple effects slammed into other travelers. Some passengers leaving San Francisco for Austin were looking at wait times of more than a week.
A spokesperson for American Airlines called the situation “a perfect storm” -- first, a real snow storm, second, holiday flights already booked solid and third, understaffed airports in New York due to snow that prevented workers from getting to their jobs.
Some New Yorkers who were actually leaving SFO on Tuesday said they were amazed.
“I got really lucky,” said Alice Grindling, who was beaming in the security line, “although I was kind of hoping to get stuck at home for another couple days.”