The 'bomb cyclone' that descended on the east coast Thursday Jan. 4 delivered several inches of snow and freezing winds. Naturally, if a storm is being coined a 'bomb cyclone,' travel hiccups are in store. However, for travelers flying in and out of New York City's John F. Kennedy airport, these setbacks escalated into episodes of violence.
The airport closed for nearly a full day as 8 inches of snow fell into the city. After reopening at 7:00 a.m. the next day, issues began piling up by the minute.
Hundreds of frustrated passengers were stranded on the tarmac for hours on end waiting to de-board planes and standing by endlessly for stranded luggage on frozen conveyer belts, all the while being given little information about the status of canceled flights. According to the New York Daily News, hundreds if not thousands of customers complained about the airport's failure to update them on departure times.
One Delta Airlines customer, Ryan Harrison of Johannesburg, even told the news outlet that staff deliberately ignored his pleas for help. “The woman in the ticketing station just closed up. She just refused to help us and put up a sign that said she would open up 10 a.m. tomorrow," Harrison claimed.
Things at JFK got so hectic, Port Authority police officers were called to break up a “disturbance” over a canceled flight in Terminal 4, according to Virgin Atlantic. A passenger by the name of Jeremy Silver described the incident, saying, “It seems as if some punches were thrown as people jostled. The crowd went nuts booing and shouting.”
On Saturday Jan. 6, Port Authority confirmed that a staggering 94 canceled flights had accumulated. The organization blamed frigid temperatures for the ongoing errors. As if that weren't enough, NBC reported a minor collision occurred when a China Southern aircraft grazed a Kuwait Airways vessel.
“JFK’s runways and taxiways are fully operational,” the Port Authority said in a statement. “Airlines remain in recovery mode, rebooking passengers from canceled flights and reuniting passengers with their luggage. Frigid temperatures continue to cause equipment failures and slower than normal operations. Customers may experience residual delays, particularly for international flights."
Oddly enough, travel at New York's LaGuardia airport and the nearby Newark International Airport in New Jersey went off without a hitch following the blizzard. For now, JFK is recommending that, until the dust settles, customers continue working with their airline to get home safely.