Aug 28, 2011 11:39 AM by Chris Welty
Travelers across the nation waited for flights to resume in and
out of East Coast airports that were closed by Tropical Storm Irene
Irene was downgraded from a hurricane Sunday as winds ebbed
around the time that the storm pushed into New York, the nation's
busiest air-traffic region.
Federal officials said airports reopened around Washington,
which took a glancing blow from Irene. American Airlines said it
was resuming flights at the three major airports around the
New York-area airports remained closed on Sunday morning. The
longer that New York's Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark, N.J.,
airports are shuttered, the worse it will be as travel delays
ripple across the country. Federal officials said they didn't know
when the airports would reopen, noting that mass transit in New
York remained shut down, making it difficult for airport employees
and passengers to reach the airports.
Airlines said passengers should call ahead and make sure they
have a confirmed seat before going to the airport.
JetBlue Airways expected to resume flights in New York and
Boston around midday Monday.
"It's really dependent upon mass transit and the airport being
ready to support the start-up," JetBlue CEO Dave Barger told NBC.
United and Continental airlines would decide on Monday's
schedule later Sunday after checking facilities for storm damage,
said company spokeswoman Julie King.
Airlines have already canceled thousands of flights for Sunday,
but it was unclear how much havoc the storm would cause for
travelers. Many planes have been full this summer, so finding empty
seats for passengers whose first flight was canceled could be
Airlines have already canceled thousands of flights. United,
Continental, Delta, American, Southwest and JetBlue canceled all
Sunday flights in the New York and Philadelphia areas long before
Irene hit. They also moved planes out of the storm's path to avoid
damage, further slowing the recovery of normal service.
FlightAware, which tracks delays and cancelations, said airlines
had indicated about 500 cancelations for Monday, said the service's
CEO, Daniel Baker. That would be a very small percentage of the
The storm affected other forms of transportation too. Amtrak
canceled many passenger trains, Greyhound scrubbed trips between
Washington and New York, and cruise lines changed some of their
itineraries as Irene made its way from the Bahamas to the