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Massive East Coast snowstorm snarls flights nationwide

Near-blizzard conditions and record cold snarled air travel up and down the East Coast on Friday, causing thousands of flight delays and cancellations nationwide.

FlightAware.com reported 5,771 delays and 2,069 cancellations as of 10:40 a.m. EST.

Roughly 20 percent of the flights destined for New York City's LaGuardia, New Jersey's Newark and Philadelphia were canceled, the site said.

New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport suspended operations as the city's three major airports prepared hundreds of cots to accommodate stranded travelers. Boston's Logan International Airport said that up to a quarter of its scheduled flights had been canceled on Thursday.

Every minute of delay costs carriers $78.17, according to trade group Airlines for America. (By comparison, each minute of a passenger's time is worth about 66 cents, according to the group's data).

The nor'easter—which brought plummeting temperatures that reached minus 8 degrees in Burlington, Vt., early Friday with a wind chill of 29 below zero—dumped 23 inches of snow in Boxford, Mass., by early Friday and 18 inches in parts of western New York near Rochester. Thirteen inches of snow fell in Boston, while Lakewood, N.J., got 10 inches and New York City got up to 7.

Airport-tracking outlets like the Twitter account NYCAviation reported multiple airlines were having difficulty trying to land flights that had not been canceled or diverted.

One map illustrates the dizzying path a Delta flight took trying (unsuccessfully) to land in New York.

For people who were able to get to airports, there was some shelter from the storm available, though not much else.

In Chicago, hundreds of people said they made it to the airport—only to be stuck on a plane for hours.

Conditions did not look to be improving much Friday morning, with even airport workers complaining about the cold on the tarmac:

— Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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