Sandy Shuts Down Nine Airports Along East Coast

We look at the impact of Hurricane Sandy on travel around the country. Airlines cancelled thousands of flights and other transit services were shut down as well.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

We're tracking the latest movements of the powerful storm Sandy. Now that it's turning across land, Sandy has lost its hurricane status. The storm made landfall along the New Jersey shore and it arrived earlier than expected. Widespread flooding is expected in coastal areas, along with damaging winds from Washington to New York and into parts of New England.

CORNISH: Sandy's arrival has brought travel along much of the East Coast to a near standstill. Highways and roads are closed. Train service is on hold and thousands of flights have been cancelled.

NPR's Wade Goodwyn is keeping tabs on it all.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: For the flying public in the East, they're unhappy adventures began this morning at Boston Logan, Colleen Jones was hoping in vain to get to Atlanta.

COLLEEN JONES: It's a hassle. There was lots of worry this morning. I woke up at 3 o'clock and said maybe we should leave now to get to the, you know, to come up here. And we said, no, let's wait till it's light so..

GOODWYN: For Jones and most other passengers, it didn't matter how early they got to the airport. More than 10,000 flights have been cancelled so far. American Airlines alone has cancelled 1,400 flights as of this afternoon. Andrea Hugely is with American.

ANDREA HUGELY: We have 22 airports all up and down the Eastern Seaboard that are affected. We do have nine airports, basically D.C. on up to New York and also Bradley and Hartford that are completely shut down and closed with absolutely no operations.

GOODWYN: During a massive and unexpected Valentine's Day snowstorm in 2007, tens of thousands of passengers were stranded and hundreds of planes were trapped out of position. But this time, planners say, Sandy is not going to snake back through the nation's airline system like a computer virus wreaking havoc everywhere. David Magana is a senior manager at DFW Airport.

DAVID MAGANA: With a hurricane, you know, hurricanes in this day and age don't sneak up on anyone. There's plenty of time to prepare from an airport perspective, from the airline's perspective.

GOODWYN: Amtrak also got ahead of the Sandy curve. All services in the northeast corridor have been suspended beginning today. Cliff Cole with Amtrak says up and down the coast, the train stations are empty.

CLIFF COLE: Because of the danger of flooding, but because of the high wind, you know, many of our trains run on electric power that are powered by overhead wire systems. So, more so we're worried about downed trees along the line and also the wires coming down perhaps, which could cause signal and switch problems.

GOODWYN: Nearly everyone in the industry no matter the mode of transportation is allowing passengers to change their tickets without change fees to the same destination through November 4th. But Brent Snyder who writes the Cranky Traveler column for Conde Nast gives high marks in particular to United Airlines.

BRETT SNYDER: United will let you change anything. You can change your destination. You can use it, you know, within the next year and they'll waive the change fee.

GOODWYN: Snyder says United's policy not only will win customer loyalty, but it gets United passengers back on United's planes faster. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News.

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