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Airline Passengers Jockey for Few Seats After Sandy

As fallout from Superstorm Sandy continues, resuming air travel and rebooking travel plans will remain a hurdle for days.

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If you must travel to the East Coast, seat availability is slim. In my review of nonstop flights on Wednesday from Los Angeles to JFK on American, Delta and United, there were only six open seats in coach, one in business class and none in first class across all three carriers. On Thursday, there were only three in coach, two in business and two in first. United's parent is United Continental Holdings .

Superstorm Sandy has grounded more than 10,000 flights across the Northeast and the globe, and it could be days before some passengers can get where they're going. (Read more: For Travelers, Sandy's Aggravation Spans Globe)

Passengers who hold confirmed reservations on flights still scheduled to depart take first priority. Airlines do not bump passengers off flights to accommodate those who were impacted by an earlier cancellation.

And while flying standby is sometimes an option if you don't hold a confirmed reservation, the chances of successfully doing so will be extremely low for the next few days.

Flight availability changes constantly, so if you've already been rebooked on another flight that isn't ideal for your schedule, it never hurts to call back (if you can get through) to see if something else has opened up.

Meanwhile, airline travel waivers remain in effect for the majority of East Coast airports. And they are dynamically being updated as the storm progresses inland. (Read more: Stranded by Sandy? How to Get Faster Airline Help)

We'd love to hear about your experience. Have you canceled your trip and received a refund, or are you trying to get rebooked?

Airports Impacted

The three major New York area airports — John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia and Newark's Liberty International Airport — remain closed today. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also said in a televised media statement Tuesday morning that LaGuardia will remain closed Wednesday due to extensive damage and flooding. And JFK Airport "may" reopen on Wednesday.

Other airports impacted by Sandy are slowly resuming operations, including those in Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington D.C.

A total of 6,047 flights have been canceled so far today along with 635 on Wednesday, according to FlightAware.com. And those numbers are expected to rise.

Travel

  • CNBC's Kate Rogers reports nearly every flight out of LaGuardia Airport has been cancelled or delayed due to ugly weather conditions.

  • People walk past a board that announces cancelled flights at LaGuardia airport on the day before Thanksgiving, in New York, Nov. 26, 2014.

    An insurance company is offering payouts if there are delays or cancellations and if luggage is lost.

  • What's goes into the busiest day of travel in the U.S., with Gordon Bethune, former Continental Air CEO, who says a decline of last minute seats is driving current customer behavior.

U.S. News