Friday, February 16, 2007

NY Post Article

Travel woes continue for third day at JFK
By DAVID B. CARUSO Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- JetBlue travelers continued to experience delays and cancelations Friday as the airline struggled for a third day to recover from an operational meltdown at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
By 10:30 a.m., the 7-year-old air carrier had called off 71 of its 570 planned flights. Other flights were delayed and more cancelations were likely, said JetBlue spokesman Bryan Baldwin.
The airline, he said, was having trouble getting enough planes and crews to JFK to handle to handle the flights, in part because of federal regulations limiting pilot work hours. The company had originally hoped to have things back to normal by Friday morning.
"It didn't work as well as we planned," Baldwin said. "It's going to take longer than we anticipated to do that."
JetBlue's terminals buzzed Friday morning with hundreds of disgruntled passengers, many of whom expressed disbelief that the airline was still experiencing problems.
"We got here this morning, and it was chaos at the check in," said Amy Mintz of Dix Hills. Her 8:55 a.m. flight to San Diego was quickly canceled. She, her husband and two children, ages 4 and 6, were on a standby list for a 6 p.m. flight, but weren't guaranteed a seat.
"I could see the other day with all the ice ... but it hasn't snowed or rained since Wednesday. They had two days to get enough equipment here," Mintz said.
JetBlue's problems began Wednesday when its operations at JFK became overwhelmed by a medium-sized winter snowstorm. The airline found itself with dozens of grounded jets and too few gates to unload passengers.
In addition to delays and cancelations, as many as 10 jets were stranded on the tarmac for between 6 and 10 hours.
The troubles continued Thursday, when the airline had to cancel 195 of its 568 planned flights, including most departures scheduled from JFK after 5 p.m.
JetBlue founder and CEO David Neeleman apologized to passengers for the problems. People whose flights were canceled are being promised a refund and a free roundtrip ticket.
That was little consolation for travelers like Glenn Bader, of Westport, Conn., who found himself missing out on a weeklong family vacation.
Bader arrived at JFK with his wife and two 10-year-old children at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday for a flight to Oakland, Calif. They were still waiting to get on a plane at 10 a.m.
"We slept on some benches," he said. "It's not great. Not great for the kids."
The family looked into getting a ticket with another airline, but the cost of a last-minute ticket would have been too high. Bader said he was on standby for a 6 p.m. flight, but didn't have high hopes of landing a seat.
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