East Coast storm freezes air travel

Cancellations and delays plagued San Francisco International Airport over the weekend after a mammoth storm hit the East Coast.

Some 60 flights were canceled out of SFO on Saturday due to several feet of snow falling on the Atlantic coast. Another six flights were canceled Sunday morning as carriers tried to get airplanes to the right places, said SFO Duty Manager Lily Wang.

She said despite the massive delays and cancellations Saturday, the airport was relatively calm.

“By the end of the day, everybody knew what was going on and were taking care of their flights before they came to the airport, so we didn’t end up with a lot of people here, which was a blessing,” Wang said.

The winter storm started off the mid-Atlantic seaboard and traveled north, dumping about 15 inches on the nation’s capital and 26 inches in parts of Virginia. It began snowing in New York City about 1 p.m. Saturday and continued through the night.

Wang expected SFO flights to be back to normal today.

San Francisco resident Meagan Hughes counted among those whose flights were canceled Sunday because of the storm. She had a ticket to fly to Newark, N.J., where she was going to meet her mom and drive to Vermont for the holiday.

Instead, she received an e-mail Saturday from Continental informing her of a “change in flight status.” The airline rebooked her from a Sunday morning flight to one tonight.

Further negotiations with Continental succeeded in rebooking the flight several hours earlier, but it was still inconvenient.

“I was annoyed,” she said. “It’s the holidays and you want to get home and see your family — you’re planning for this time to be with them.”

Hughes said she doesn’t really hold her travel woes against the airlines, though.

“We can’t fight acts of nature, and I totally understand that they need to make accommodations for safety and we just need to roll with it,” she said. “But it’s still really frustrating.”

kworth@sfexaminer.com

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