Sandy Leaves Travel Plans Up in the Air

Sandy Leaves Travel Plans Up in the Air
Getty Images

Hurricane Sandy smacked the East Coast then turned into Super Storm Sandy. Now, thousands of travelers are no doubt calling her Pain in the Neck Sandy. This, as some airports start operating as normal again others are a long ways from having a regular schedule.

The biggest issue is when New York's three area airports (JFK, LaGuardia and Newark) reopen. That depends on how much damage the airports suffered and also whether the people who work at those airports can get to them.

(Read More: For Travelers, Sandy's Aggravation Spans Globe)

MTA Chairman, Joseph Lhota, described the situation Tuesday. "The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night. Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system," he said.

Cancellations Mount

Sandy continues to rack up flight cancellations after crippling the busiest section of commercial airline flights in America. But it's still a long ways from being the worst single event for flight cancellations since 9/11 according to

Putting Sandy in Perspective

  • Snowmageddon (Feb. 1-10, 2011): 24,000 cancellations
  • Super Storm Sandy 18,100 flight cancellations SO FAR
  • Hurricane Irene (Aug. 25-29, 2011): 15,000 flight cancellations

Flightaware expects the number of cancellations to continue rising, as New York's three biggest airports are still a ways from reopening. If there's any good news, it's the fact the rate of cancellations should drop.

The airports in Washington, D.C., and Boston were open and resuming flights. Even Philadelphia, which had the most cancellations on Monday, was open Tuesday and expected to slowly get back to normal.

Airlines & Hurricane Sandy


Frustrated Airlines

For airlines with heavy exposure to the Philadelphia and New York markets, this has been a frustrating week. Delta has hubs at both JFK and LaGuardia in New York. It has canceled more than 2,500 flights and has rebooked more than 75,000 passengers.

Dave Holtz, vice president of Delta Flight Operations in Atlanta, and his team have spent the last three days in Atlanta adjusting the flight schedule and checking with the FAA and Port Authority on when to bring back flights.

"You can operate in some cases and in some cases you can't," said Holtz. "Some of it (resuming flights) is dependent on infrastructure, governmental staffing and all the rest. "

Holtz said Delta had its fleet ready to resume flights. Many of the planes have been parked at airports far from New York. As for how long it will take to work out the backlog of bookings? Seventy-five percent of the passengers on canceled flights have already been rebooked.

-By CNBC's Phil LeBeau