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Major Snowfall Wreaks Havoc On Nation's Airports


People in much of the eastern United States can think of this moment as an involuntary long weekend, their world largely shut down by sometime Friday, and it will not return to normal this morning. It's hard to guess how long the pause will go. Snow from the weekend storm is still blocking many roads and mass transit. Airlines canceled thousands of flights over the weekend, but many airports are trying to get back to normal, and that includes a New York's LaGuardia Airport. About 4:30 this morning Eastern Time, NPR's Hansi Lo Wang was with passengers there.

What are you seeing where you are, Hansi?

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Well, I'm at a checking counter for Delta Airlines here at LaGuardia. And I see some travelers checking in their baggage, people lining up for security check. It's a normal scene, but there are still a lot of delays today. I talked to one traveler, Caitlin Blauvelt (ph) of Princeton, N.J. She's on her way to a work trip to LA. But she woke up early this morning and found out her flight at another airport was canceled, so she had to rebook a new flight. Here's what she said.

CAITLIN BLAUVELT: It actually was pretty easy, but I didn't have any options. It was either not get to where I needed to be at the right time or take the 6 o'clock in the morning train - plane - and stopover in Colorado for a little bit then keep going.

WANG: So lots of improvisation for people flying today. And LaGuardia Airport is up and running, of course, and so are others in New York, but a lot of cancellations.

INSKEEP: So are people actually feeling kind of awake and motivated because they really, really want to get that early flight?

WANG: Well, certainly there are those kinds of travelers out here this morning. And there are more than 1,300 cancellations so far just today, another 1,300 that are delayed, and so a lot of unhappy travelers. But in D.C., the airports are reopening this morning. Just a few flights are going out. Also, Baltimore's airport and Philly's airport reopened yesterday. But all the airports are saying, check with your airline before you get to the airport.

INSKEEP: Now some of the cities you mentioned, even the mass transit shut down over the weekend. I believe that was true for part of the weekend even for New York City. Hansi, how'd you get to the airport?

WANG: (Laughter). I actually got here yesterday because I was afraid. But in NYC, subway is up and running, except for some parts of Brooklyn. The same is so in Philadelphia, and also Baltimore's subway is reopening, D.C.'s subway is reopening, although with very limited service. Also, Amtrak is running a modified service between Boston to D.C., from Harrisburg to New York. There are fewer trains on the Amtrak lines between D.C. and Virginia because of the snow. One thing to be aware of is a lot of the regional rail lines - lots of snow being - still being cleared, especially here out in Long Island, where crews are still clearing out snow and ice from the stations and deicing the third rail.

INSKEEP: You keep giving me this valuable information, but I'm interested in your story here. You said you got to the airport yesterday, so I gather you spent the night at the airport. Were you the only one?

WANG: No, there were a lot of travelers there. I suspect many of them had canceled flights and were waiting to get out this morning, which when a lot of new flights have been - a lot of flights have been rescheduled for. But some may be still waiting for a little bit longer because there are still lots of cancellation.

INSKEEP: So is there a sense that New York City - I mean, the biggest city in the country - will be operating sort of as normal today?

WANG: Sort of as normal, but it really depends on where you are. I think out in Manhattan roads are fairly clear. But out in the outer boroughs in Queens and Brooklyn, lots of complaints from folks saying their sidewalks, their local streets are still very messy, very hard to get out of.

INSKEEP: Well, Hansi, I hope you have a safe trip out of the airport whenever you manage to do it.

WANG: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Hansi Lo Wang at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Hansi Lo Wang (he/him) is a national correspondent for NPR reporting on the people, power and money behind the U.S. census.